Every great culture needs a revolution.
Notably, every great culture needs a food revolution. Marco Polo’s visit to China spurned the spice trade and one of the first semi-spherical recipe swaps – ie: noodles to pasta, rice to risotto. By the late nineteenth century with the progression of the railways began the popularity of public restaurants; beginning with the patisserie and tea rooms. Decades after, the Bay Area had their turn of events led by the 'food revolution' beginning in the 1970's that prompted the forefront of culinary developments to this day. Today dynamic gastronomic challenges enlighten the food scene from jaunts spanning the Pacific Northwest, Las Vegas and regional cooking from Argentina, Spain to Asia. The tremendous influx of inhabitants from other countries continues to fold into the global roux, tempting even the plainest of palates.
Though mediocrity continues to reign and dilute the food chain; fortunately there are many who attempt to contribute to the ‘revolution’ of food (and wine) development to assure the future.
TasteMemory is about food and the memory response to food. It’s about the simplest forms of food, but also stepping outside of the comforts to another dimension beyond the golden triangle of daily foods. It is about the global conditions that effect food in our lives and how some of these contributions release the inhibitions of our palates toward our evolving world. I write to observe, recollect, retain, salute and most especially to challenge mediocrity.
Every revolution needs its pioneers and TasteMemory strives efforts to consider the individuals and experiences that do so.
Some examples of mediocrity results from sub standardizing in decisions. There is the use of under par ingredients such as vegetables for the sake of cost and timeliness. Watering down a fiery ethnic dish in order to please the simpler palates and forecast sales to the general population. Spottiness of the mundane include menus designed with dishes that don’t represent the regional aspects of ethnic cookery or perhaps dishes are bluntly over fried, over oiled, over cooked and thus a menu without identity but to please a general populous palate just to claim more bang for the buck.
Growing up in the restaurant industry in the San Francisco Bay Area with the day to mouth experiences; I have responded to food as a creative framework in our lives that continue to enhance more of what we are destined to become. Obviously there is a cultural identity to the development of foods as there are in the visual arts, theatre, music and movies. The stunning reality of cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York responding to the ethnic core of their community is the result of commitment. The commitment to stay affixed to pure ingredients, fresh produce and meats. It seems there is a common bond with the wholesaler, fish monger, buyers and purchasers to stay on the lines of quality and elite selection. With hope that people inherently respond to challenges - It’s refreshing to see restaurateurs challenging their diners and in turn patrons eagerly responding.
I live in a city at it’s cusp of cultural and urban development. Jacksonville Florida is located on the Northeast side of Florida. Often referred to as ‘south Georgia’, for various reasons – but the city is adjacent to the Georgia border. Yes the urban sprawl has hit here. But there is a ‘pleasing of the masses’ that seems to the mediocrity that stems from the base of the food pyramid beginning with the produce buyers at the grocery stores, from food courts to restaurants and down to the general patron of food arts. Yet there is intriguing insight propelled by pioneering efforts by the chefs from Bistro Aix, Pastiche, The Tasting Room to name a few of the upscale jaunts. Pure comfort foods that are notable in their earnest preparation and quality control efforts goes to some of my frequent haunts in Downtown and University Boulevard surroundings. A recent overwhelming impression was from my dining experience at Tento’s Churrascaria in Jacksonville Beach. A simple example of quality control presented in absolute exquisite, passionate, consistent and crazy delicious detail. I’ll share an upcoming review on Tento’s later.
Growing up in the Bay Area during the food revolution had a challenging effect on me. When I stepped into the outside world after that, I continued to seek that level of beauty throughout my life. I seek to write about that level of beauty in all things and especially in food and our memory’s response to that sustenance.