I’m collecting textbooks again today and tomorrow, so I’ve asked the lovely Sarah Sphar to step in today. Sarah is a writer and editor living in Cleveland. She recently adopted Maurice, a rescue dog, and is one of my favorite people on Twitter. Take it away, Sarah!
When I told Carrie I would be happy to do a guest post, I asked for an assignment. I figured she would be good at this because she is a School Library Lady, stern and bookish. Why, she might have asked me to write I will not chew gum in the library 100 times! In perfect penmanship!
[Ed. note: OMG I am so asking future guest posters to do that. I hate gum like poison. In non-related news, who wants to guest post?!]
But instead she gave me a choice: Best or most memorable meal; tips on something; my relationship with libraries; or something of my choice. Not so stern and bookish after all!
Anyway, after duly considering my choices, FOOD IT IS.
A couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I went to Chicago to have dinner at Alinea. It remains one of my favorite memories, of food and just in general. I even still have the menu! And a separate one for my boyfriend, because he’s allergic to shellfish and they tailored a couple of dishes around that. Fancy!
We are not really fancy-style people, although we do enjoy the occasional fancy-style activity. Alinea was definitely a fancy-style activity. Corny as this sounds to say, it was special, and I’m glad we have the memory to share. We still discuss it. It was a wild splurge and it took three hours and we giggled the whole time. (We opted for the wine pairings, which involved 10 pairings over 12 courses so…even considering the modest pours we were feeling very sparkly by the end of dinner.) It was like eating in space, or in a parallel dimension where everything looks like the food you are familiar with, but you experience it in a completely different way.
For instance, here is a picture of a piece of bacon suspended on a wire, drizzled in butterscotch and wrapped in apple fruit leather.
You pull on the bacon to release it from this serving-boat apparatus and then you eat it. In looking through my old photos and notes from this dinner, I see that my comment immediately after eating this bacon was “Please kill me,” because nothing else could possibly taste that good.
It seems wonkish to have kept notes and taken pictures, but everyone else in the dining room was surreptitiously recording the whole experience on their iPhones anyway. This was just at the beginning of the now rather tiresome practice of photographing every plate of fries that’s delivered to your table, but this experience seemed to warrant documentation. Remember how villains in the early Bond films always had the most amazing lairs? This seemed like the kind of food you could reasonably expect to be served in the top-secret hideout of a SPECTRE agent.
During dinner, we plucked food off of metal pins and ate frozen beef that thawed and then cooked before our eyes. We were served plates of intricately arranged morsels balanced on pillows filled with scented air, and drank a ball of eggnog suspended in liquid. It was fancy yet wacky, in a way. That’s a combination I can really love.
After we finished, we went back to the hotel and ordered a bottle of Champagne from room service, because we had a hangover of fanciness. And then the next morning we had hangovers of Champagne.
We didn’t mind too much.