At the risk of sounding cranky, the Accidental Locavore is a little disenchanted. First, there was the disappointment of Provence, 1970. In the middle of muddling through the book, I was invited to a lecture featuring Alice Waters and Kermit Lynch at the New York Public Library. If I tell you the high point of the evening was the beautiful room we were in, you won’t read to the end of this, so pretend I didn’t say that and carry on, ok?
I’ve long been a fan of Alice Waters (a long-ago meal at Chez Panisse, was one of the best I’ve ever had in this country) and was looking forward to hearing her speak. Kermit Lynch, a wine maker and importer (also Berkley-based) is almost as iconic in the wine world as Alice is in the local food movement. So, like Provence, 1970, with France being an epiphany for all of them, how could it be anything but fascinating?
It started to go downhill with the introductions. Alice and Kermit were asked to provide seven words as a biography. One of Alice’s descriptors — rebel — started a conversation about the table’s centerpiece. Seems that Ms. Waters didn’t approve of the flowers that were previously chosen to grace the set. Needing to “change the way it looked, so we could be in this moment in time,” she sent an underling to the Peninsula Hotel and got a collection of colorful produce to replace the flowers. Nothing wrong with that, except it was a Monday. What does Monday have to do with it? There’s a huge Greenmarket at Union Square, so you would think that the doyenne of farm-fresh would have insisted the cauliflowers were local and fresh, wouldn’t you (for a better photo of the arrangement, watch the beginning of the video)?
The lecture was very much like learning a magician’s tricks. When you know how the linking rings work, it’s no longer magic. Seeing Alice Waters perform, and it is a finely honed performance, was rather like pulling the curtain aside in the Wizard of Oz, and finding out it’s just some guy from Kansas (only this time just substitute your typical Berkley ex-hippie of an âge certain). While I’ll always have the memories of that amazing meal at Chez Panisse, added to that now is the thought that a lifetime of being so earnest and precious about everything must be really tiresome.