As America celebrates Alice Waters’ cutting-edge contribution to the Organic, Slow-Food movement and her forty years at Chez Panisse — one of the most famous restaurants in America, named after Marcel Pagnol’s Fanny — Alice Waters celebrates her inspiration: France.
Tonight my Dad called me from the barn — where he was bent under his horse, hammering shoes into place — to let me know that “you might want to tune-in to NPR.” Alice Waters was on, he said.
I had to laugh a little to think of him listening with one ear to the sound of nails in hooves and with the other to the “dreamy” (his — appropriate — word, not mine) voice of Alice Waters.
Truth be told, I don’t know much about her, although I know she’s basically the Mother of the modern Organic movement. No tomatoes in her restaurant before July, and all that jazz. I have yet to visit her restaurant…and it looks like I’d need a pretty penny to do so. Given what I heard tonight, though, I think the two of us would get along great.
Alice Waters: I went to France in 1965 and it was an awakening for me. I felt like I had never really eaten before. I had liked certain things but I didn’t understand how it fit into peoples’ lives in a delicious way. When I went there and I walked to schools, past the markets, and ate in the little restaurants in Paris, it was like a revelation…there was always something very political happening at the table in terms of conversation. It was a whole cultural experience that I had there that really impressed me and so when I came home I felt like I could make this happen in my own life…I went about looking for the food, and cooking dinners at my house for friends.
Terry Gross: Did you think that the delicious food had to be French cuisine?
Alice Waters (Laughing): I’m afraid I did. I loved the way the French ate: they had small courses, always had a salad with the meal, and some cheese. It seemed so well considered, I would say. I absorbed it, as if by osmosis. And I wanted to live like the French.
Photo Credits: Google Images