I am sure that everyone has had a situation like this before: You are invited somewhere or are in a restaurant for a nice dinner. Maybe you came a little bit too late, and your friends have ordered for you or for all. Naturally when you are invited to someone’s house you don’t have control anyway of what is going to be served. May it be for whatever reason you are introduced – maybe even exposed to something that you have never eaten before – or not in that version.
The expansion of your taste
You smell and find nothing unusual or even worse. You cautiously take a small bit or bite on your fork or spoon. You slowly lift your hand towards the mouth, like a helicopter when starting. You direct the cutlery forward and open your lips just wide enough for the unknown to enter. You place the silverware on your tongue, gently closing the lips around it. You move the hand with the spoon or fork backwards, leaving the bite in your mouth.
Then it happens
Your senses are confused. This is new. This has the right temperature – is creamy, crisp, fresh, sour, hot, sweet, salty, smoky, roasted. It’s all there. It’s balanced, yet powerful. It confuses tongue, nose, brain: they have never tasted something like this before. This is like it was tailor made for this moment. Tailor made for you. Tailor made for you to love and enjoy it. This is epic. Amazing. You love it.
You eagerly and bravely take a bigger chunk, still confused of what this may be. Was it just a trick of your brain? Can it be that it was THAT good? Surely not! Your natural scepsis kicks in. If something is too good to be true, it probably is. The second time this new something is entering your mouth and system. This time your mouth embraces it. There it is again. The explosion. The goodness. The excitement, the overwhelming urge to have more.
After this bit you look up, gaze into the round of your table neighbours, make wavy gestures with your hands as if you try to invent a new word in sign language and then you open your mouth to speak:
“WOW” “WHAT THE FUCK” “UNBELIEVABLE” “AMAZING” “THIS STUFF IS SO TASTY“
I had the same experience, the first time I tried risotto.
It was at the house of my at the time girlfriend, or better at the house of her parents. Her Family had been running an advertising agency in my hometown of Freiburg, and had accumulated a little bit of wealth and income for themselves. They were not super rich, but definitely well off. Big house, in the suburbs of the city, annual ski holidays and fancy clothes.
Funnily enough, through the same family, I made another ground-breaking personal discovery: The advertising agency of the father, that occupied the penthouse and the floor below in a fashionable office complex in downtown Freiburg (if that even exists) was the first place and time I got to meet the a timeless icon of design: Furniture of USM Haller. This (mostly office) furniture from Switzerland is as simple as it comes, but at the same time it is genius.
Imagine rectangular blocks, approximately similarly measured as a treasure chest. Only the lid of the chest in the front. A frame of shiny chromed steel tubes builds a net of steel frames. It looks like a little bit of scaffolding. The walls of those frames are covered by panels made of sheet steel that come in a few colours. Less is more. The panels are pressed onto the frames and clipped on the inside. No screw, no nail needed. But the ultimate genius elements are little steel balls at each end of each tube. Those little peckers make the whole thing modular and versatile. Each ball has 6 holes to screw the frame tubes in.
As such the thing is literally like toy bricks for CEOs.
Why I am telling you this: To give you an idea of my quality standard.
The furniture, which I didn’t know if the time, its rather expensive. You pay for simple sideboard around 3000 to 4000 EUR, a library easily 8-10k EUR.
I was asking a guy when I was in the advertising agency: “Wow, the furniture looks amazing, is it brand new? “
The guy replied: “No, it’s 30 years old.”
Therefore, the price is absolutely justified. Therefore, genuinely good things cost (most of the time) more – and genuinely good things will impress with quality and character.
I can easily transpose this principle into the world of food.
In any case, I never had a good relationship with the father of my ex-girlfriend. Obviously no father likes to see his teenage girl going out with a “just-adult”, “just-driver” and “just-partner” in a long term relationship. Or for the sake of the argument with any male person. The atmosphere around us was, at most, polite enough for a hello, but other than that cold and for my side there was a lot of fear. Not fear of life of that I can be hit in the face: Fear of awkwardness and embarrassing silence.
Meet Risotto for the first time in my life: Once I was officially invited for dinner
The mom of my ex-girlfriend was originally from the Caribbean, Martinique. She was a beautiful, elegant lady of colour, with a very charming French accent. Then there was the older brother and the eldest, her sister. And then there was Werner.
Werner was the name of the father.
I’m saying was because unfortunately Werner died very early and tragically a couple of years on, long time after I was together with my ex-girlfriend.
God bless you my friend for introducing me to Risotto and USM Haller.
Werner was preparing the risotto. The table right next to the kitchen in the (of course) open plan ground floor was set with 6 plates for soup and spoons. In the middle of the table was a round cork mat that is used to put hot pots or pans on the table. Other than that, and a few glasses, but otherwise nothing. A Spartan table setting.
I knew that it was the Risotto evening. But for my understanding Risotto was, what I knew at the time as “Rizi Bizi”. Not sure if anyone has the same interpretation of Rizi Bizi that I have: Rizi Bizi is cooked long grain rice mixed at the very end with peas and carrots. Rather a left over or even student dish. For a student that is living on her last 3 EUR of the month.
In any case, I was confused and surprised and I thought:” Why would they serve a dish like that on family dinner evening and make a big fuzz about it ?”
Oh Boy, little I knew.