I have lunch with Thomas Keller every day. I watch him working in his cool stone kitchen. I learn to confit eggplant, I learn the difference between glazed and carmelized, I contemplate pureeing artichokes.
He is in a thirteen inch computer on my breakfast room table. I close the blinds behind him so that he is not in the glare. The blinds are plain and squared and seem a perfect backdrop for his assured presentation.
He soothes me.
I eat my Trader Joe’s fried rice with a fresh fried egg on top and I can pretend that the world is not in the midst of stopping on its axis, that I don’t need to analyze the disease and death counts in my city today, that I don’t need to have a recoiling reaction to the thought of going to the grocery store.
Look at how carefully he chooses the angle for cutting those carrots.
I am not a cook. Yes, I know how to cook but that role is taken over in my household by a much more enthused and reliable family member. But I am an able eater and a steady student of restaurant culture. I have never been to a Thomas Keller restaurant. A parade of small dishes which will almost assuredly contain ingredients I don’t like is off-putting. And who has the budget.
After lunch I wash the dishes and make tea which we will each take to our separate desks. We are mirroring the habits of our true office, where our entire team has tea and treats after lunch. When we hire someone new we ask them if they prefer Earl Grey or firm black Indian tea.
There is a line of writing burning in my mind. I am eager to get to the dining room table and write it down. I know how those things can just evaporate. But I’m asked to help make starter for focaccia that we will have tomorrow. It takes three risings which explains why it’s been years since we’ve made it. But now we can monitor risings and basting and all of the other things that seemed like something only our mothers and grandmothers did.
Our street is turning into an updated agri-mercantile experience. We trade yeast for a container of Sunday sauce, pumpkin bread for a serving of beef stew from the Belgian restaurant we are trying to keep in business. I am familiar with every new bud on the grapevine and I worry we are going through the thyme in the front garden at too quick a pace. Our own sustainability experience.
Tomorrow I will start to learn about leadership from Anna Wintour. Just in case I ever have people to lead or cajole ever again. But now I’m ferreting around in the cupboards to see if there is something we can put on top of the fresh focaccia tomorrow.