These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity in the ulterior epicure’s life.This is the first moment that I’ve gotten to really sit down and devote time into my beloved and sorely neglected blog.First, I guess the biggest news is that I have been somewhat “outed” by an article in the Detroit Free Press by Sylvia Rector entitled, “WELL FED: Ulterior Epicure, the Ann Arbor extreme gourmet, talks about his passion for fine food and shares some of his favorite restaurants.” Obviously, the publication did not come as a surprise to me as I obviously agreed to the story and negotiated, as best as I could, with the amount that my identity would be disclosed – yes, even my weight. I have to say that the article was well written and very fair and accurate.
The one big shock was that Rector had contacted and interviewed Steven Shaw, one of the founders of eGullet, a “a well-known (online) site where thousands of food enthusiasts and professionals discuss everything from home cooking to destination dining.” I opened my inbox on Friday morning (the date of the article’s publication) to find a newsletter from Steven Shaw (a.k.a. “Fat Guy” on eGullet) to the entire eGullet membership, which includes a number of chefs, mentioning the story and providing a link to the online article. As well, Shaw initiated a thread on eGullet entitled “Ulterior Epicure: Extreme Gourmet.”
Shaw stated: “The reporter called me for some quotes, and I was really glad that she was willing to get on board with my campaign to establish “extreme gourmet” as a meme.” A discussion on the merits and qualities of the term “extreme gourmet” has ensued among members.
Here was my response:
Re: “Extreme Gourmet”
I thought the term was novel. As I had mentioned above, I had no idea that Sylvia (Rector) had contacted Fat Guy about my article. As one who has been “pegged,” and perhaps the first who was been publicly acknowledged as an “extreme gourmet,” I largely have to agree with Fat Guy’s definition and reasoning.
There is a difference between those who are discriminating eaters (ie. those who try to avoid fast food, processed foods and other food “short cuts”) and those who will go to more “extreme” measures to ensure that they avoid unnatural foods… this doesn’t mean that I don’t eat “common food.” A lot of my personal friends know that I stuff my face with a hot dog or a burrito… but be sure, they also will tell you that these hot dogs and burritos aren’t just Oscar Meyer or Taco Bell… they are, as Fat Guy suggested, either home-made, or of higher quality (ie. derived from organic products or non-processed). I would rather drive the extra mile, or ten, (or, as Sylvia reported, bike) to go somewhere that align with my quest for wholesomeness and quality (not “kwality), rather than “settle” for filling and convenient.
Do I like being called an “extreme gourmet?” Who cares? I don’t care. Call me whatever you like. Just know that I appreciate fine food. But, know that my definition of fine food IS NOT necessarily expensive food, or “haute” food… fine food is whatever is wholesome, creative, expressive, beautiful, instinctive and above all, tasty. It’s thoughtfulness. It’s playfulness. It’s a relationship between the creator (chef) and the receiver (me). And, often, it’s the way it enhances, nourishes, comforts or creates a romance, friendship, loneliness, joy, sorrow or solitude… for me, that can and does happen at almost every meal I eat – whether a bowl of muesli and yogurt by myself in the porch or with my friends/family/self at a 3-star Michelin restaurant… because I treat it that way… and yes, because I often just have to make that extra effort. But, it’s worth it… to me.An “extreme gourmet,” or whathaveyou.
My plans to fly low on the radar with the article, have since failed. My inbox flooded with inquiries and congratulations… which is the perfect jumping off point for the other big news in my life – made public by the article.
I finally graduated – from graduate school (the institution’s identity can be surmised by the title of the article alone)! OHMYGOSH am I pooped… getting everything finished was NOTFUN!!!
This past week, I scurried for an overnight trip to Chicago to fête the end with two colleagues at the Avenues where my dear Chef Graham Elliot Bowles pulled out all the stops for yet another fantastic meal (you can see the pictures on my flickr acount here), shot off my last papers, cleaned up the place to move-out, and busied myself with coordinating family and friends coming in from different points from around the country – and fetched my cap&gown on the fly somewhere inbetween.
…soooo, now, I’m bored out of my mind. I’m finally catching up on email and roving eGullet like mad and obsessing over my upcoming plans to go to S.F. and Napa to – well, EAT!! Yes, in an unprecedented act of indulgence to prolong the graduation celebration as long as possible, I’m meeting up with some friends to hit Manresa, Chez Panisse, The French Laundry, Ame, and perhaps one other.
Stay tuned for more spectacular eating updates!