Friday nights are not what they used to be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Cross your heart and tell me honestly – are you sure you want your pre-lockdown Friday nights back?
I guess that depends on how you spent them. All night bar-hopping can be fun, yes, but how much do you miss waking up to that slap of remorse on Saturday morning?
Going to movies is certainly missed – but thanks to Netflix at least there are options. What I am longing for most, though, what I’ve truly got an appetite for, is dinner somewhere nice. Flickering candles, starched napkins, the background buzz of fellow diners. I miss the leisurely perusing of a menu, now replaced with the wearied scanning of instructions on yet another supermarket deal.
Guess what – those dinner places miss us too; and more than that – they need our support as they struggle to stay afloat. The once guilty ritual of a takeaway has become a good deed! Tap in to those karma points and order something local.
What ‘Dinner with a Book’ will do is provide you with a delicious theme and good company. ‘Company’? I hear you ask.
But no, we won’t accompany you ourselves, and we won’t suggest you break the rules with illicit meet-ups. For what is better company than a good book?
Let’s start this Lunar year with a new routine: stop by your library, get the book, then pick up that takeaway. Come home, set up the solo dinnertable of your dreams, and live your Fridays anew.
David Chang – Eat a Peach
David Chang is a charming egomaniac, and his book Eat a Peach is a testament to his career as a chef and a restaurateur of the James Beard awarded and Michelin-starred Momofuku Group.
In the intro, David jokingly tells us about the process of selecting a cover for the book. His publisher, conducted a survey to choose between different cover options, asking respondents to pick a favourite, and also to point out the things they liked least (which turned out to be David’s face, name, and sometimes the title too). But look at the result – virtually irresistible if you see it, with Kanagawa-esque waves paying homage to an inspiring trip to Japan that sparked David’s idea of bringing affordable Asian food experiences to American markets; the huge peach representing Momofuku (the name means Lucky Peach, David’s chain of restaurants); and that tiny person pushing it up a hill being not Sisyphus, but David himself (present in the amount tolerated by the nitpicking survey respondents).
Eat a Peach is a memoir that covers such a wide base of subjects – from food to depression to racism – that you can’t really shelve it somewhere between Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain. It needs to be read without reference and with a minimum amount of judgement, because David strikes one as being unbelievably egotistical. He meticulously describes his own shortcomings and gives great examples of being clingy, angry, vindictive, smug and self-assured. And yet you will like him, because first, as I’ve mentioned, he is very charming, and second, he repents for every single misdeed in a fashion that would leave the strictest Catholic priest appeased.
The food though. His approach to cooking is inspired. He doesn’t stick to strict rules (which is why he left traditional french kitchens). He doesn’t try to artificially bring cuisines together, like fusion does. He starts with authentic recipes and builds them up based on sudden ideas; ingredients available; customer reactions (most of his cafes have open kitchens so there’s a lot of direct visual feedback); or a miraculous grilling mistake that results in -say – a particularly tasty caramelised pork. The guy is an artist with a vision and a mission: to feed people into apprehension of their prejudices, for which they should subsequently feel remorse (which is why his fast food bar Fuku serves ‘Dericious!’ fried chicken).
If you are living in New York, then of course you know what to pair with this book and where to get it. I am not in Manhattan though (and from the looks of it I also won’t be going there anytime soon) so it’s Bone Daddies ramen for me. I think David would like that, and would appreciate the name as well.
‘Dinner with a Book’ is a new Londnr feature created & written by book blogger, Yelena from Foliovore.