Our last day, we ventured to Berkeley to dine at Chez Panisse for lunch. I’m drawn to reputation. I would have preferred to eat at the French Laundry – where reputation dominates almost all dining experiences – but not only is it not kid friendly, it would probably cost $200 or more. At 11:30 a.m., almost two hours before our reservation, we went to Triple Rock.
I first visited Berkeley when I was 16. A friend had a family friend there he wanted to visit. My friend’s friend had AIDS. No one would go with. I said I would go. We went to the campus where I bought a sweatshirt I still own and wear to the gym each day. His friend died years ago. I remember him as very kind and very open about his life and experiences. Berkeley, like San Francisco, is a city of homeless people. Outside the McDonald’s they congregate. Talking to people walking by. Changing clothes in the restroom inside. Eating food that poisons them. These are the experiences of the homeless.
The last Vered menu of the trip. One day I will publish an academic article based only on the pictures of my daughter reading menus. From one years old to fifteen years old. A rhetorical exploration of her menu reading. From this menu, she ordered nachos. It’s a fine line between snack and the poison called fast food. Is it snobbery to belittle the dining habits of the unfortunate, particularly on a day that we ate at Chez Panisse? This is a beer blog. I drink and write about expensive beer. Of course, it is snobbery.
I enjoyed an XIPA. It’s been said many, many times. The West Coast invented the floral, hoppy IPA. Grapefruit and pine. The oddest and most enjoyable of all IPA flavors. If there exists a topos of the IPA, it is the West Coast IPA. This topos is the place where all IPA meaning resides. The strong ale I had, Titanium, lacked the dark malty color of an American Strong Ale, but nevertheless was enjoyable.
This chalkboard provides a spreadsheet breakdown of style, description, ABV, etc. Excel meets chalk.
A pony tailed man checks the wort.
Wine and beer have no reason to fight. All of our pleasures deserve their occasions. If there is a fight to be had, it should be with fine dining and fast food. Fine dining still prefers to favor the wine over the beer. Reading Calvin Trillin’s Feeding a Yen, I notice his reference to ordering a “microbrew” instead of wine at a fine dining establishment. But which beer did he order? Hopefully, as Trillin might say, one he wouldn’t throw rocks at.
Fast food, on the other hand, offers neither. When I lived abroad at 16, I remember, however, a McDavid’s that sold Budweiser. We went into town to buy the awful hamburgers so that we could also order beer. Could beer save fast food in America? Probably not. The poisoned hamburgers and fries would be accompanied by the tasteless and mass produced Budweiser. The quality would remain at the level of the disadvantaged.
And our destination. Quail. Simple done well. By no means the meal of the disadvantaged. Alice Waters sat behind us in another booth. She was eating at her restaurant with her friends. We were eating at her restaurant by ourselves. We never spoke. Her email is hard to locate. Maybe I should have asked her then to contribute to the special journal issue on Food Theory I am editing. But I hate speaking. I prefer to write. That is my rhetorical and professional disadvantage.