Sky Full of Bacon

The Ur-Document of My Food Blogging

I hope to get some posts and pics up about our recent two-week trip to the D.C. area, but it won’t happen until next week. Until then, this will have to tide you over: a work of foodie archeology. In 1998 my wife and I went to France for two weeks, what is now almost a 12-year-old boy then on the way (so only I got to drink), and needless to say a big part of the point was to eat at fine places. We dined at Alain Ducasse, which I think still holds the record for the most we’ve ever spent on dinner (around $750 for two) and was not, by today’s standards, worth it; sure, it was an exceptionally well-crafted meal, but by now, for that kind of money we just expect so much more showbiz and intellectual excitement– there was no liquid nitrogen, no hot and cold dishes, nothing like that, just poulet bresse (the best chicken I’ve ever had, but still, chicken is chicken), asparagus and morels, high-toned stuff like that in a vaguely oppressive atmosphere— and so far as we could tell, everyone submitting to it was American.

What was worth it, however, for only slightly less money, was a meal at Marc Meneau’s L’Esperance, in Vezelay. Vezelay is a cool, atmospheric medieval town— its basilica has a most excellent, folk-art-like work of medieval relief sculpture which my wife’s sister the art historian has studied at length— and lunch at L’Esperance was magical. To be honest the food was perhaps a little behind the times— I will not attempt to explain why that enchanted me here, while I fault Ducasse for not being from the future already— but the lovely small-town-garden setting was, well, just so French. It will always be one of the great meals of my life…

…and as it happens I know exactly what we ate, because we sent the art historian sister-in-law a postcard describing it, course by course. Here it is, my very first food post:

What a novel idea— writing down what you ate, to share with others! How eccentric of me, it will never catch on.

Actually, seeing this again for the first time in 12 years, I note two things: I didn’t actually write it, my wife did (it was a collaborative effort worked on as we waited for food to arrive), and it wasn’t actually the first one, apparently we sent her a postcard from an earlier meal (probably La Clos de la Violette in Aix-en-Provence). But it’s the one I remember and so, like the cave paintings at Lascaux or the oldest surviving Usenet message, it’s the one I choose to honor as the beginning of all this food stuff to follow.

Of which more and better will follow next week, I promise you.

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