Last night we celebrated my good friend Anne Greta’s birthday at Quince Restaurant in San Francisco. The company and the conversation was terrific and we all shared a 5 course chef’s tasting menu that was paired with some excellent wines and served up by a waiter with a thick Italian accent (another ear pleasing thing). The servings were small and succulent and usually just enough to leave my mouth wanting one more bite and my stomach completely content. The meat course, which was an incredibly cooked beef, was the only course that had several bites too many on it. It was so delicious that I finished it and in retrospect realized that were I making all my choices from being completely conscious I would have left a little of the steak. However on Karen’s and my belly fullness scale of 1 to 5, 1 being desperately hungry and 5 being stuffed like a turkey at thanksgiving, I left at a 3 and my moderation goal is to leave the table at a level of satisfaction between a 2.5 and a 3. So not only was the experience beautiful, sensationally tasty, and convivial it was appropriately moderate. (Except of course, it wasn’t a bit moderate when it came to the bill.) Ahhh to be able to grow up eating to please my tongue and stomach with delectable small bites of food where consciousness and appreciation were what it was all about and not seconds, finishing or cleaning up a plate, and shoveling it in between talking or even during talking. I am looking forward to the day when what I am calling 1/3 of a “normal” plate is actually a normal plate, where I can prepare a little of this and a little of that and not feel like something is missing.
Before we joined our friends at the restaurant Karen and I went to look at some silver and china and dream about serving an elegant dinner at our house. As we were looking at the china I noticed some china designed by Thomas Keller the chef at the French Laundry in Napa Valley. It was pure white and the section in the middle of the plate was much smaller then a normal plate is with a wide rim on the outside. So the area for the food was much smaller then we are used to on our plates, you just couldn’t put a typical thanksgiving dinner on those plates. When I realized that I stopped looking at and appreciating the china. Now in retrospect I see what he is doing with his design, like he does with his cooking, he is showing us how to eat in this day and age. Most of us aren’t farmers or working at hard physical labor any more and we don’t need the copious amounts of food that were needed to refill the physically exhausted bodies of our ancestors and yet we still eat to please our great great grandparents. Thomas Keller is designing plates to have us eat for the life style we have today, small, beautiful, and wonderfully tasty.