Where Do You Worship? (I'm Talkin' Food Here)
A story of two Houses of Worship, and then I go onto food.
I've been to the Cathedral in Reims, France. It is a huge, stone gothic cathedral, one of the the prime examples in Europe. It is impressive, I guess, but it leaves me cold.
On the other hand, when I was in Debno, Poland, I visited a rural wooden church that had polychromatic painting on the interior. This is in a poor region. Although it is a humble work of art, the painting in this church provided me a powerful emotional experience. The effort and devotion of these modest people were overwhelming.
This got me thinking about the fact that I really much prefer humble food prepared with love and devotion. There is something about the modesty which itself strikes a chord deep within, if the chef has put her heart into it.
I continue to go to expensive restaurants on occasion, and I appreciate the effort. Sometimes I am dazzled by it. But at the same time it leaves me cold.
Home cooking and high end restaurant chefs are not the same animal.
Home cooking is far superior, IMO.
Many High end chefs have, in the past ten years or so, started making home cooking, humble dishes available in their dining rooms. Polenta in an Italian restaurant comes to mind. Beef short ribs is another.
Some chefs have opened up hamburger joints and the like to show that even they eat regular food, not the fancy stuff they sell at their high class establishments.
There is a place for each, but all too often, as you state, the cheffy places often have little or no heart in their concoctions and the soulless food leaves us cold. "Stone cold"
What some expensive restaurants have turned to recently is mostly food stuff that does not require the deft hand of a chef, but a simple broilerman turning out a protein, a starch, maybe a simple veg. Rarely do these places have the culinary school trained chef actually compose dishes that need a true cook to prepare. They turn to what is easy and Fast to prepare to order.
The soulfull, hearty, caring, loving dishes prepared by loving cooks is also usually prepared ahead of time and kept on a steam table to be scooped up and plated to order.
I find that in my area, Long Island New York, many patrons are not into that and order a plain steak or other plain protein with a side of plain starch and a luke warm plain veg. Leaving that steam table food sitting there and going stale by weeks end. It's a catch 22. They offer what sells.
No matter what is actually better. A plain, unseasoned, hunk of protein on a cold plate with sides of whatever moves and makes profit. No need to hire a real cook. Just a hack to make short order dishes to serve the masses.
<<Home cooking is far superior, IMO.>>
My opinion, exactly. Home cooking is where I worship most.
As much as I love having "someone else" ideate and shop and prep and cook and serve and clean up...well, it's generally those aforementioned things that appeal for dining out, rather than the food. When I want food that makes me swoon, well...that's at home, for the most part. I don't pretend to be an expert in anything (well, just one thing, but that's my private conceit) but I can cook a lot of things I will never get in a restaurant. And pretty well. More work, but better results. For me at least.
So for the OP: I'd be the polychromed wooden hut before I would be the stone cathedral, although I appreciate both aesthetically. Both have value, but I'll take polychromed idiosyncrasy over "in-stone" lock-steppedness every time.
So, there's where I worship.
Nature is my church. I am a registered Maine Guide. I take guests on 3-5 day sea kayak trips along the Maine Island trail and ocasional canoe trips as well. I try to catch fish, trailing a line while paddleing. Once camped, I need to cook for 9 in very primitive circumstances. I feature Maine made products (including Maine wines) and augment the meals /w freshly caught fish grilled on a fire,dug clams, picked mussels, fiddleheaad ferns, ramps, and beach peas.Sitting down (onthe ground) to share a heavenly repast is nearly trancendental for me. then I wash the dishes in the ocean and build a camfire on the beach. then commune with my gueats under a cathedral of stars. Great topic.
Come on up, June & July in Maine, the rest of the year in NM. I often take off by my backpack and dissappear into the wilderness around Mt. Taylor. I usually just take caned beans, spuds and coffee. And scrounge a bit. The beauty of solitude and the NM night shy are sustance itself.
Possibly the best meal I cooked solo backpacking was trout stuffed w. blue berries and chanterlles and roasted cattail root as a starch.
Life is short, carpe diem.
A lady from the Philippines set up a restaurant inside a tiny retail store; decorated the joint like her living room and made every home dish herself. She only lasted a year. But in the time I enjoyed her cooking three times a week-no lie. I knew it wouldn't last but I was so freakin lucky to be her guinea pig.