Alice Waters’ restaurant is called Chez Panisse, which is also the title of her Menu Cookbook, published in 1982. The book is centred around menu’s, emphasising the importance of combing dishes to create a balanced dinner or lunch.
In the introduction she describes how as a child she wanted fresh green beans and charcoal-grilled steaks every birthday dinner. And how she would sit out in the strawberry patch, happily eating fresh berries. In 1963 at the age of 19 she went to France for a year, to eat. Back in Berkeley her love for food transformed in opening her restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971.
In the chapter What I Believe About Cooking she writes as American chef and activist. She discusses how the US as a nation is removed from any real involvement with food and how the US people (and probably many more) are alienated by frozen and hygienically sealed food. She writes: ”Food should be experienced through the senses.” And also: “… we have been indoctrinated into believing that by making food preparation easier and less time-consuming, we’re gaining valuable free time. No mention is ever made of what we lose by this whittling away at our direct contact with food or what better things we might do with the time thus gained.”
We couldn’t agree more! There is so much fun and love in buying, cooking and enjoying food. Sit down, take your time, and talk about food, wine and life.
One of our favourites from Chez Panisse is her eggplant soup with dots of red bell pepper. Not difficult to prepare and a joy to eat and serve. The taste is rich yet light, fresh and uplifting. The combination of egg plant, garlic and red onions plus bell pepper works very well, probably because both are charred. Use vegetable stock and you will have a great vegetarian starter.
Other titles by Alice Waters include We Are What We Eat (A Slow Food Manifesto) published in 2021, The Art Of Simple Food (I and II) and My Pantry (2015). (Audio) Books are available via your local bookstore, the well known channels and Chez Panisse.