Friday, September 03, 2004

The Lowly Mackerel

Every day I wonder why I do what I do. The hours, the predominantly unappreciative dining public, the endless five minute deadlines, the constant employee turnover, equipment breaking, the sacrifice of friends, family and celebration. The list goes on forever. But tonight I realized one of the most addictive reasons for me. Perfect natural products. Fruits, meats and fish that are so unbelievably perfect and beautiful, that when you experience them you connect not only with the product itself, but with every person involved with it. You form a deep bond with total strangers because just by seeing what they provide, you know where their heads are at. Being a perfectionist is isolating. Few care about perfection. For me it's everything. It gives you hope to know others are out there.The relentless drive of principles and true work ethic.
Good enough is easy and easy is just that. Simple and lowbrow. I won't waste my time on it.

Here's a brief rundown of what came into my kitchen today; Spanish Mackerel, Sea Urchin, Fluke, John Dory, Bronzini , Hawaiian Opakapaka, (now that I'm writing this, I just realized my Sand Dabs didn't show...I totally spaced) Hand Harvested Abalone, Wild Alaskan Salmon. Each and every one of them was so perfect I had to stop and just look at them. Touch them. Think about them. I wondered if people are truly deserving of such perfection. They made everything I do seem somehow blasphemous. As if anything I could do could improve them. Cooking ANY of them seemed contrived. I wish I could just eat them raw. Take a whole side, raw, out to a table and have people eat it in it's absolute perfect state. Maybe a little fluer de sel, but THAT'S it.
Take for instance the mackerel. A marvelously unappreciated fish.I once had a customer say " Mackerel? We use that for bait." I wanted to kill him and use him for chum but then I thought fish are far too superior to eat shit like that. The Makeral's shape is sleek and it's skin silver, smooth and scaleless. Built for speed with little water resistance. It's like a little natural torpedo. Perfect in form and function. It's flesh rich, firm and ever so slightly tinted from it's natural oils. Only Japanese steel touches them. Perfectly forged razors are the only tool worthy of it. The combination of feeling hundreds of years of traditional Japanese steelmaking effortlessly slicing through a perfect example of natures handiwork makes everything seem in perfect harmony. Swordmakers tested their blades on cadavers so the whole thing seemed natural and not the least bit wasteful.
Another example is a perfect peach. Most of my stone fruit comes from Mariani Farms. I wonder after tasting their fruits if anybody has ever or WILL ever know what fruits taste like. You can smell them from across the room. They're like the most perfect little present you could open. Their juice is sweet and syrupy, fully developed sugars. You can taste them on your mind's palate before you even get close to them. Go into a grocery store's produce section and what do you smell? Nothing. There you are surrounded by mountains of innocuous products. All empty and devoid of any character. I like to equate these with the majority of the human race. When you deal with Mariani fruits, you also deal with principles. They're treated like little children. Nurtured on the tree to develop to their absolute potential. A picker then carefully cuts them by hand and then carefully places each one in it's own little cradle. No tree rake shaking them off by the dozen onto a tarp, so hard they won't bruise from the fall. Pump gas over them to speed up their "ripening". Sure they're just fruit, but it seems as though they appreciate the extra care. Children should be so lucky.
So this is one of the greatest reasons I do what I do. I deal with things most take for granted. I get to play on a whole different level. And it's more fun and in a way, elitist, than you could ever realize. The 20 Creme Brulees to 2 Roasted Doughnut Peach withVanilla Bean Ice Cream keep me grounded unfortunately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I love you! please don't stop posting!

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. Isn't it funny how people settle for good enough or average?

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mackerel...who serves wretched mackerel!? what a very trite ingredient for your menu A.C. mackerel is to trite for me...I love to skin them and then just throw away the remains, just for the enjoyment of it. Nice this the best you can do A.C.? is offer *lowly mackerel* on your menu?

Surely you can do better than offering more exotic ingredients for your menu.

*Holy Mackerel* You don't!! giggles


1:19 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home