24/7/16

bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Russian tins)
This morning's bathtub reading was supplied by the first 56 pages of the August issue of GQ, which includes Michael Paterniti's ode to Yotam Ottolenghi. This passage in particular caught my eye:


The immediate impression of the trio [Ottolenghi, NOPI head chef Ramael Scully, and recipe developer Esme Howarth] made was of friendliness -- how well suited to one another they were, and how soft-spoken and solicitous Ottolenghi was.

"Would you like some tea and cookies?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer he went rummaging to retrieve some. I'd been served so much Ottolenghi food by others, and now Ottolenghi himself was serving me cookies. This seemed to be the opposite of Gordon Ramsay. This was the opposite of the matador chefs and their brash opining. In fact, if you could say anything about Yotam Ottolenghi, you might say he contained multitudes: a sweet temperament and fierce intensity, iron discipline and wild creativity.


In checking on whether the piece was online, I found a speech by Paterniti on storytelling, which includes this anecdote:



I have an unofficial contest going with some writer friends, to see who can ask the stupidest question EVER without meaning to, and I think I recently won. I was interviewing the chef Yotam Ottolenghi in London, and at the risk of never being asked to go on assignment again, I'm going to quote my question, verbatim:

So I'm just--butternut! Butternut squash, broccoli polenta, pearled lemon, that idea of, and sometimes this happens at the ridiculous high-end restaurant, the prawn did this, eat the whole flower, or whatever, just get that marrow, or whatever it is, up here, on the plate, all foamy, and this is what you’re doing without having to turn it into some sort of ridiculous cooky thing in these restaurants, like, maybe you could tell me: Why are we doing this!?


Seriously, how can you answer a question like this? And you know you're in trouble when the response is, as it was in Ottolenghi's case, a very long silence, a polite but quizzical expression usually reserved for the platypus tank at the zoo, and then, with pity: I think I know what you're trying to say...


As someone who dines on her foot on a regular basis and actively contemplates vows of silence every third day, I found this awfully reassuring.

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