Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'd Like the Good Stuff, Please

A few years ago I was up in Napa at Copia during a huge birthday celebration for Julia, what would become one of her last. All her friends were there, including some very famous chefs. There were panels of speakers throughout the day, cooking demonstrations, gorgeous gardens to walk through, and copious food to enjoy. One of the panels featured Jacques Pepin and Alice Waters, with three other chefs whose names I have sadly forgotten, but whose food I am sure I have enjoyed. Each of them told us a story about Julia, giving us a little window into the life of this legendary food maven.

I will never forget what Jacques said about Julia because it was so pure and sincere, and it summarized what made her so darn likeable. He told us that Julia loved food of all kinds. She would never have considered herself a food snob, and never would have wanted that term to be applied to her. As an example of how unsnobbish she was, he said that she had a fondness for McDonald's cheeseburgers. The audience laughed as he said it, but he insisted that it was true. Her reasoning, he said, was simple. She just likes good food. Now you can argue the merits of McDonald's, and I have yet to set foot in McDonald's after seeing Super Size Me, but that's not my point, nor was it hers. Good food is good food. Your determination of good is up to you, but I think that good encompasses more than just the top shelf food we pay through the nose for, willingingly, I might add, at the many fine establishments located throughout the world.

His words, or Julia's really, changed my perspective on food. Up until then I considered myself a foodie who dabbled in food snobbery, because that was "cool," especially in San Francisco, the city of gourmet food where a new food snob is born every day. It would bother me when people called me a food snob to my face, however, because I didn't feel like I was claiming that I was right, or better than anyone, or even that I knew what I was talking about. I only claimed to know what I liked, and it often involved what was regarded as the good stuff. But that day, I realized that I wanted to revise my outlook and my title, and stop posing as a food snob just to fit in.

So I hope to make this food blog an ode to good food of all kinds. From the food that feeds the soul to the food that earns stars. Because in my opinion, and in honor of one of food's greatest advocates, good food is good food. And that's why Tito's Tacos shares space with JiRaffe in my list of Good Grub in LA. Perhaps Raphael Lunetta would prefer not to have his food referred to as grub, but I don't mean it as an insult, rather a compliment. If it prompts me to adopt an English accent and intone in Oliver's best brogue, Please sir, I want some more!, then that's food worth talking about.


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