I had a great time seeing Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain and Bill Buford chat at the NYPL last week—if you didn't get tickets before it sold out, don't blame me, 'cause it's not like I didn't tell you about it in advance. I wanted to write a long piece except that I was mostly too busy laughing to take lots of notes. $15 well spent! Here are four of the things I managed to scribble down that I think you'll appreciate:
- Batali, on Charlie Trotter's anti-foie gras stance: "At some point you have to realize you're on the top of the food chain, and that's all there is to it."
- Bourdain, on Rachel Ray: "40 dollars a day? Tip, bitch!"
- Audience: "Is [getting] fat an occupational hazard?" Bourdain: "They just don't smoke enough." (He should know, as he's supposed to smoke like a chimney and is a beanpole compared to the rotund Batali and Buford.)
- Audience: "What's your favorite fat to cook with?" Batali: "Lard, olive oil." Bourdain: "Pork."
My favorite discussion, i.e. the one that made me wish I was taping the entire thing, was Bourdain discussing the culinary tipping point he calls the "sushi barrier". He posted about it on eGullet early last year:
My theory, for some time, has been that the most significant point in modern North American culinary history was that moment when Westerners decided it was alright--even desirable--to eat sushi. That barrier-crossing raised all boats for all chefs of every stripe. Suddenly it was permissable to serve mackerel, octopus, fish roes, sardines and other traditional European seafood that were once largely shunned. What chefs found to be acceptable quality in seafood lept--as there was always a Japanese restaurant willing to pay for the good stuff (hence creating reliable demand for more variety and better quality). And once the bone-deep aversion to eating raw fish disappeared, other barriers fell as well. The dining public became more daring and willing to experiment.