THE FLIP SIDE OF CULINARY PERFECTION
Talk about FOOD and it instantly UNLOCKS mostly SWEET memories – ones that are REDOLENT with happy associations, EASY TALKS, and importantly, an over powering SENSE of emotional SATIATION
Long, sultry summer holidays spent on the porch with grandma’s mango pickle in one hand and a book in the other. Baking a chocolate cake for Papa’s birthday and anxiously waiting for all the superlatives in the dictionary to trip over each other, never mind that it was lopsided, a tad too sweet and a bit too moist. Fighting withmy brother while trying to get my hands on the last crumbs of carrot halwa that the next-door aunty had made. Talk about food and it instantly unlocks some bittersweet, but mostly sweet memories – ones that are redolent with happy associations, easy conversations, and, most importantly, an overpowering sense of emotional satiation that warms you just the way a tight hug from a parent would. ‘Everything will be OK,’ it says.
So, to think that food – that soul-satisfying, uplifting essence of our lives – could be responsible for the death of a highly successful chef, devoted husband and loving father is not only ironical but incomprehensible.
When 44-year-old Benoît Violier, one of themost celebrated culinary craftsmen globally, ended his life earlier this year, it sent shockwaves across the world (read about the dark side of culinary perfection on page 42.) What is even more disturbing is that he did it only a month after his Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville was crowned theworld’s best by the French government, and he was christened the world’s top chef.
Some said he surrendered to the grief he suffered due to the passing of his father as well as his mentor Philippe Rochat, but members of the fraternity pointed their fingers at a dark, almost unpalatable reason – pressure that emanates from pursuing perfection. One said, ‘At this level you’re only as good as your last meal’, hinting at the exhausting mental grind of maintaining the highest possible standard in the kitchen. But what the statement also makes you wonder about is what really is perfection. Isn’t it just an illusion; always present, but slightly out of reach? And isn’t food just a small part of the feast we call life?
Tell us what you think of our food issue. Until next week,