Friday, January 06, 2006

why why why why why

This afternoon I was asked yet again – why do I blog (and photograph) so much about food?

I could have been glib: and you find politics, the subject of choice for so many bloggers, that much more interesting? (The answer may have been “yes” so I did not go that route.)

I’m glad people (some people, not the person I was with this afternoon, obviously) seem to accept my obsessive food focus.

But really, it’s not just about food. I know that someone may click on Ocean and scroll down and see a photo of pommes frites and say – okay, I’m not into that, and move on to something more heady (rather than stomachy).

And that’s okay. But those pommes frites? They speak to larger issues. I mean, anyone who does not understand that for me, those pommes frites represent all the pain and anguish of being human in this complicated world of ours is simply giving Ocean a cursory look.

And that’s okay too.

But do know that in my mind, even though I cannot always adequately put it into choice words, it really is more than just about food.

one plate after another

Late last night we set out to find food. Nothing reminds me more that I live in a small town than the absence of conviviality in eating establishments here after the clock strikes nine. Actually, the absence of open eating establishments itself late at night is enough to make me think it’s time to pack up and head for a more Mediterranean approach to eating: late, with lots of people, making lots of noise, over good food and wine.

Wait! No need to pack my bags! We have ourselves a new place off the square, run by a known chef. And and and and… is open until 1 am! Madison delivers! Home sweet home.

Time to support these efforts to keep our knives and forks clattering and working late into the night. We show up nice and late. And it’s still crowded. How many good surprises can I stomach during one evening?

One look at the menu and my spine tingles. French onion soup, pumpkin soup with roasted seed oil, figs and goat cheese drizzled with lavender honey, oysters and Madagascar prawns, lamb loin with white bean puree and violet mustard, truffled mac and cheese, scallops with braised endive – we ordered them all! And, because I witness a plate of fries making its way to another table, I practically accost a random waiter to bring us some of those as well. With a tub of garlic mayo for dipping purposes. Yum.

And then it gets confusing. When do you eat what? Tied to convention, we are thinking that first comes the soup then come the meaty fishy plates. We share, but only to a point. Each of us becomes invested in our selection. Don’t touch it! I have a right to try it first! – this is a common cry at our table as three forks reach for the plate of the fourth diner.

And so we eat. And it is good. Plates come and go, some large, some small. I am ecstatic. And increasingly not very hungry. Awaiting my last dish – the oysters and prawns – we banter and laugh and sit back, pleased with life, pleased with this new spot called CocCoLiQuot. And so we wait. And wait. And wait some more until we are the last ones there (it seems) and finally I note that the kitchen is empty and I have the feeling that a cold oyster still needs to be caught or cleaned or something, or maybe the flight from Madagascar is delayed, for these delicious foods are not before me.

It was not to be. Our waitperson, confused by the eating habits of our lot (for we ordered so much!), forgot to place my seafood order. Or, she thought that we should end with les pommes frites. For whatever reason, the last dish never came.

Do we leave displeased? But no! We are able to put aside small transgressions such as missing plates of food. We are thrilled; I, the sole resident of Madison out of the bunch, I am thrilled as can be. I can eat downtown, after midnight. I can eat morning noon and night. I am happy.

Jan 06 030
les wonderful pommes frites