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Craft


yvonne johnson
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I do not accept that the reactions of trained and untrained eyes and ears have exactly the same merit.

This reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes a childhood story with which western society attempts to pass on some of its collective wisdom to the next generation. Our society, although generally hypocritical, is keen on believing innocence is a true judge.

Your analysis of "The Emperor's New Clothes" is a valid one, but I have a somewhat different take on this story, which I agree (?) is very important. I'd say that its moral is that one should trust one's own senses and mind, even and perhaps especially when they contradict received "wisdom." I strongly agree with that position. Getting training and filtering it through one's own independent mind are not so contradictory as might be implied by your reference. I would argue that, to the extent I've had informal training in art from an artist, it's enabled me to form judgments independent of the "received wisdom" from the critics, the advertizers and publicists, the gallery owners and curators, the investors, and the promoters.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Great art has many more than two truths...“Guernica” will never stop being in an intellectual dormant state. It will always continue to engage and provoke sensitive and intelligent people and change its “meaning” with the passage of time and the values and sensitivities of future generations...

Robert - “Guernica” has the impact of extreme psychological subtlety; that is a fact.  However, this work heavily relies on symbolism, and I find it imperative to have the artist’s perception of the subject.  It will be useful to know that Picasso used the ancient animal symbols of Spain to spell out the terrible catastrophe.   Would it not enrich your emotional perception of the painting knowing that the bull is brutality and darkness, and the horse represents the people?   Unless you want to leave it fully to the imagination of the viewer, you are bound to come to Steve’s conclusion that “sometimes it's good to hear it in the artist’s own words”.  The only “change of its meaning” in the future may be attributed to the intensity of the emotions, not to the context.

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Robert B. - Let's be fair here. What I said in the original post was,

"I mean if we were posting about a painting and there was a disagreement as to its interpretation, the artist coming onto the thread to explain what he intended would be welcomed."

From there we have digressed to,

second, you invoke some kind of analogy where an analogy doesn’t appear to exist;"

The only issue I raised is whether the artist would be welcomed (or not if you feel that way about it) participating in a thread in the context of the way it was discussed in the compromised critic thread.  Somehow from there we got waylayed by the Intentionist Fallacy. Furthermore, you then said that it doesn't matter what Collichio has to say, the proof is in the pudding (eating the food.) But I'm still waiting to hear from anyone what his words have to do with how the food tastes? They only have to do with what his goals are, what he is attempting to do and framing a context (which I thought was Robert S.'s point.) So under what circumstances would Collichio's (or even Picasso's) words not be welcome?

Pan - People who are excluded from this conversation, because they either lack experience or don't have the necessary skills to participate often invoke elitism as the reason for their own exclusion. But in reality, the conversation is open to them so I don't know how one would call it elite.

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Steve:

I think that it's quite different to talk about food and to talk about a painting. If you don't like the taste of the food, the concept the chef had is of only intellectual interest, if that. If you do like the food, you might or might not be interested in the concept the chef had when s/he created the dish.

However, lxt made a powerful point about "Guernica": Not knowing the meanings of the symbols used in the painting would decrease the scope of one's frame of reference in interpreting and understanding the artwork. I could make an analogy with programmatic music. Probably in most cases, both music and visual arts either work or don't, more or less regardless of what symbolic content that's not readily understandable is there (at least, presuming a viewer with a reasonably trained ear or eye). That said, I think that knowing that the program to Berlioz's "Symphonie fantastique" gives a lot more vividness to an already vivid work; in the case of "Guernica," one can make a strong argument that understanding the symbolism is crucial to understanding the political content of the work and its political meaning, even if you eventually choose not to consider "Guernica" one of Picasso's greatest artworks according to certain aesthetic criteria (and I'm not sure whether I do or don't, though it is at the very least a very important and impressive work - I'd have to look at it again in the flesh to rethink how I respond to it aesthetically).

The intentional fallacy, as I understand it, is the assumption that the creator of an artwork is both truthful and has fully explained the meaning of his/her work. But a greater fallacy is to assume that the artist him-/herself could not under any circumstances be a reliable source of information about his/her work; that is a ridiculous and, I'd say, purely contrarian viewpoint, and probably one promoted by non-artists such as critics, art historians, musicologists, and literary critics who are motivated by big egos to claim that they must know more than the creators. (Please note that the "who" clause in the previous sentence is a restrictive clause: I.e., I would never assert that all such non-artists have big egos, etc.)

But this is all a tangent. Art appreciation and food appreciation are simply different animals because one does not consume art into one's body. Cooking is an art, to be sure, but it is an art of a different type than painting or music, and I'd refer you back to my comment about the Hungarian language's differentiation between delectation and aesthetic appreciation.

In response to your other point:

Yes, these discussions are open. You're right, in that sense, that this is not an elitist site. However, I think it is an elite site, in the senses I mentioned before (the general degree of knowledge and discrimination among eGullet's current membership).

By the way, it was a lot of fun meeting you at Peter Luger's.

Best,

Michael

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Steve, that was a very useful report. I haven't eaten at Craft, but the last time I was in NYC I passed by just as they were about to open and read the menu. To me, it was like trying to solve a crossword puzzle with abbreviated, illogical and conflicting clues.

I suspect that what is wrong with Craft is what is wrong with American culture in general. Just around the corner at Gramercy Tavern, this team has been doing everything right. But in America, that's not enough -- you have to keep doing things *different*. During two week's eating in France -- some of it very good, some ordinary, none terrible -- I was grateful that I could go into a strange restaurant, order a dish by name, and have it arrive in a recognizable, if not totally predictable, form. The chefs were like competant jazz musicians, or Baroque musicians, who could have sat down and played together without discussion, following a sort of "ground bass" of culinary conventions. What makes ordinary French cooking both pleasant and reassuring is that if you say "Wow!" it's likely to be after you've tasted it, not before.

If I were a billionaire, I'd set the Craft team up in a restaurant in which they were told to do what *they* wanted to do, not what a marketing director told them they *had* to do. The most unaffordable luxury in the world is, "To thine own self be true . . ." I'd like to know how they responded to that -- not to a reporter, but in the private recesses of their own minds.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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This reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes a childhood story with which western society attempts to pass on some of its collective wisdom to the next generation. Our society, although generally hypocritical, is keen on believing innocence is a true judge.
The meaning of The Emperor's New Clothes is not that innocence is more reliable than experience, but that the child was unaware of the dangers of mocking the emperor. One by one the adults felt emboldened to speak aloud what they already knew. In other words, adults have learned the hard way that it is best to agree with those who can destroy them.

The other message, especially relevant to our times, is that the emperor himself was prepared to accept as gospel blatant nonsense from the mouth of a cultural guru. This has a certain relevance to our parallel thread of commercial support for artistic ventures.  :smile: A favorite New Yorker cartoon is of an emperor staring into an empty plate, with the caption, "The Emperor's Nouvelle Cuisine"

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

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Pan, John, Even I know that my "interpretation" of the lesson in The Emperor's New Clothes is not the intended one, but I think there's some dark truth in what I say. By the way, I'm more inclined to believe the adults said they saw what they didn't see, less out of fear they would lose their heads than that they would be seen as less worthy by their fellow men. Weren't they all told by the tailors that only the pure in heart, or some bullshit like that, could see the clothes? And this is precisely what some critics of "new" art and innovative cooking use to accuse the creative artist or chef (assuming the latter can't be the former as well) of pulling the wool over everyone's eyes (invisible wool?). The critics often claim that the fans just follow the avant garde partyline. To them Warhol, Koons, Adria, Gagnaire and the like are all producing the emperor's new clothes, but the same criticism was felt by the impressionists and some food loving diners still believe haute cuisine is nothing but an excuse to put less on the plate in order to cut the  restaurant's costs.

There will always be those who "get it," and those who don't, but over a half century of successes by the avant garde over time has led to a backlash and the lesson many potential critics have learned is that it's hard to recognize the next avant garde. Thus we may see a rush to jump on a band wagon. The eagerness of some to proclaim the "new," in turn forces the doubters to be even more adamant. What's really needed is a greater audience willing to say "that's interesting" and fewer people telling us what's good or bad. To get back to this thread on Craft, what we had was Plotnicki telling us Carft is very interesting along with what he found troubling. To his credit, if I can remember that far back in the thread, he clearly separated his subjective opinions from his objective accounts.

Robert Brown, I'm all for art historians and curators who can be as creative as artists and as often barking up the wrong tree, but it should be understood that if their collective energy and opinion was "correct," there would not be the revisionism there is in art history. They serve best when they teach us how to see and not what to find.

While on this line of thinking, I'm also interested in why those who have no problem separating fine art from popular art and folk art have such a problem with seeing haute cuisine as fine cooking to be judged by a different set of standards than folk cooking.

I'd go on, but it's mother's day and I have to get ready to leave for a popular performance where there is little room for creativity and much attention is paid to the craft of the perfomer over the course of nine innings.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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"If you don't like the taste of the food, the concept the chef had is of only intellectual interest, if that. If you do like the food, you might or might not be interested in the concept the chef had when s/he created the dish."

Pan - I think it is even more basic than that. It is fair to ask any artisan what  they are trying to accomplish in their work. That the limitations of cookery might make the question less relevent than with other disciplines doesn't really make much difference. In commercial ventures (this eventually gets to J.W.'s point,) commerce necessarilly taints aesthetics so the question gains a second (and possibly third) track of relevence. But ultimately the most severe limitation is that few chefs to begin with actually are cooking at a level that challenges intelectually. This is exactly what makes Craft so puzzling to many of us. The food is extremely simple, yet so many of us are confused when we go eat there.

John Whiting - The problem with American culture is also what is great about it. It is based on the simple premise that consumer dollars will eventually pay for investment in culture. This more democratic approach to financing creativity (as opposed to a patronage system) has shifted the target of who creativity is directed at. The fact that this approach often results in things crass (McDonald's etc.,) isn't that offset by everyone having a say as opposed to just a few? And aren't attempts to reinvent or restate things (like Craft) the way we keep the process going? Eventually, someone comes up with an idea that moves the ball down the field or creative energy peters out (like what has been happening in France.)

People are always bemoaning the lessening in the quality of aesthetics because of "Amercian culture" but I don't understand how we can bemoan that loss without also admitting that the basic human condition at the time those great works of art were created was mostly horrible.And that so many great works of art are a byproduct of the inequities.  When I walk through a place like the Prado and there is painting after painting of portraits of Spanish royal families, and no paintings of common people, how does one appreciate the greatness of the art without recognizing that people lived in poverty at the time in order for those paintings to exist?

I don't know about you but, if someone came to me and said Steve, you can press a button and it would erase the history of art but simultaneously issues regarding human rights, wealth distribution, etc. where progress was made in the 19th and 20th centuries, would have occurred in the 16th century instead, I would choose that door. That's because all it really means is that the art that would exist today would be the history of a different civilization and that we would have passed the McDonald's stage of our evolution 300 years ago.

"There will always be those who "get it," and those who don't, but over a half century of successes by the avant garde over time has led to a backlash and the lesson many potential critics have learned is that it's hard to recognize the next avant garde."

Bux - What is amusing about this is that critics keep insisting on imposing themselves on the equation, even when they don't have a clue about it. This is the point I was trying to make earlier on that criticism has tried to create a vacuum for itself to operate in to the point of saying it is necessary to exclude the opinion of the creator even while we don't completely understand what any of this means. How refreshing it would be for a critic to announce that they have no idea if something is a good work of art or not. That they don't really understand it. To speak about people like Adria and Gagnaire through the posssibities they offer while tempering their personal dislike or disagreement with the aesthetic they offer. I guess the simple way of saying this is that there is no reason to conclude whether the Avant Garde is anything but different until it is proven either way with time. And until that happens, I don't see why any explanation including the artists shouldn't be relevent to the mix.

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Don't forget that The Emperor's New Clothes is not an ancient fairy tale such as those reported by the Brothers Grimm, but a quaint modern concoction by Hans Christian Andersen. It should therefor be approached, not as a repository of folk wisdom, but as a piece of tailor-made (!)modern fiction like any other.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

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I will try to be brief here since I have spent too much time on what has appropriately become the mother of all threads. Steve, apparently you limited your visit to the Prado to the 16th-Century Spanish section that takes up the middle section of the first floor. Had you continued to the far end, you would have seen a fine collection of Goya’s work that depict everyday Spanish life. Even if you take the work of one of the great painters of Spanish Royalty, Diego de Velazquez, (1599-1660), I find, looking at my brother’s monograph ( nominated for a National Book Award, by the way) pictures titled “Three Men at Table”, “Three Musicians”, “Old Woman Cooking”, “Waterseller” and many more that offer proof that daily life was a fitting subject for painters in 17th-century Spain. (I am also surprised that you missed the many paintings with food as their subject matter). What does poverty have to do with the painting of masterpieces when so many of the greatest works of fine and applied art of all time were commissioned  by the Church for the benefit and enlightenment of the populace?  Yet, even if you argued that only the nobility in Europe could commission and collect works of art, so what? You will not see the great unwashed dining at Craft, either.

As for the rest of your post, what does McDonald’s have to do with creativity? And what is your realistic goal of the bit about the button pushing? Is it wrong to think that it is a hypothetical manufactured out of complete fantasy? If you are writing about a theoretical trade off between  “human rights and wealth distribution” for the history of art, welcome to the world of Philistines and a cultural environment more appropriate to the souk, the Bazaar, or the Mosque. And if you got rid of the history of art for more human rights, would a person be allowed to go to an art library and read an art book? Or would you have gotten rid of all the art libraries too?

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Robert B. - What does any of what you wrote have to do with my point that if things like better wealth distribution were a function of 16th century politics, instead of 19th and 20th century politics, than the history of civilization that was recorded by artists would be different?  Or what the art of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries would have looked like if instead of the church deciding what was good for the populace, the populace decided for themselves what was good for them? Just like they do today. Would the subject matter of the art from that period be different? How could it not be. So art books would exist, it's just that their content would be different because civilization would have evolved differently.

This responds to J.W.'s point that things today are decided by a marketing director and not an artist (or chef in this instance) and that is a function of "Amercan culture." All I have pointed out is that to bemoan the lost conditions of yesteryear that instigated great art, the bad parts of yesteryear come with it.  And in today's environment good comes with the bad too. And if the downside of things being valued according to popular choice is that a marketing director makes decisions and not an artist/chef, it also comes with an upside that who gets to dine in an establishment is determined by merit, and isn't hand chosen by royals or clerics.

But you still haven't told me why Collichio's (or Picasso for that matter) words wouldn't be welcome when interjecting a statement of their goals? You can always ignore them if they have no meaning to you, trying to bring this back to the original point.

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Robert S.,Did you work with Marilyn Simms at the Cooper-Hewitt? Everyone is so nice there. By coincidence last Saturday a friend called me on her cell phone from Wright's house in Hudson. Is that a fine treat worth going up for?

I am sorry for the delay in answering your questions to me. In so far as art history is an interdisciplinary pursuit, it is critical to know the climate of the time. I think we have not deliniated enough between appreciating the work of living artists and art that is decades or centuries old. I said that it can be useful to have a kind of road map provided by the artist. However, the vast majority of artists never deemed it necessary to write about themselves. I think that is a fairly recent phenomenon in the entire scheme of things.

As for culinary concerns, I think people got a little confused by not realizing, perhaps, that I specifically found Collechio's remark that he was influenced by steakhouses in starting Craft to be of little or no relevance in my experiencing his cooking. This does not preclude that I would find something else he said enlightening vis a vis himself or Craft. Of course I am very curious about good chefs; I like to know where they learned, where they apprenticed, whom they admire in their field, what I may miss or misidentify in a dish,etc. I never sat down with a chef for an appreciable length of time, however. Nonetheless, I think I can get a more truthful or accurate reading of a chef and a restaurant just by watching and talking with my mates during the meal. Generally speaking, I still stick to my proof/pudding remark since the concerns of a cuinary creation are much less, and less-compelling, than those of a painting, novel, and a ground-breaking example of industrial design.

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Steve, I don't understand something. How can you push a button that removes the history of art and still have art books? The button seems to have disappeared in the last few hours. Also are you picking on the 16th century because of the portraits you mentioned? Just checking, as the greatest ones in the Prado were painted in the 17th century. Furthermore, if the populace decided what was good for them, the Church would have become greatly marginalized, perhaps even done away with. As for the other matters you raise through your personal, theoretical reconfiguring of history, I do not see the point in replying with theoretical answers

I think I answered the question about Collichio's goals. He doesn't need to state them; just cook 'em up and send 'em out. Any question I would have, such as where he got a certain ingredient, I can almost always ask the waiter and get the answer. As far as Picasso, he isn't around any more to ask, but as far as I can tell, the goals he talked about the most were making money and getting laid.

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"How can you push a button that removes the history of art and still have art books?"

Robert B. - Gee that's an easy one. If the political environment in Spain in 1930 was different, then Franco might have not gotten into power. No massacre and no painting by Picasso. Does that mean that Picasso wouldn't have applied his technique towards some other topic? Of course he would have. And that is what would be in the art books. I don't understand why we can't seperate an artists ability to capture things, from what drives the subject matter. What happened in Guernica is an "accident" of history. But Picasso's talent is not.

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This first bit is somewhat ot, but in reply to Robert B:

Marilyn Simms was not directly involved with the RW exhibition, so I did not have the pleasure of working with her. We have met, and I found her, as virtually all the Cooper-Hewitt staff, to be friendly, as well as highly professional. Working with everyone at Cooper-Hewitt was one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling experiences of my career.

A visit to Wright's house, Dragon Rock (in Garrison, by the way, not Hudson (which is the location of Olana, Frederic Church's house), and especially the 80 acre landscape surrounding it, designed and built entirely by Wright, is an extraordinary experience. It's my feeling that it is the most exceptional example of a 20th century estate in the tradition of the great estates of the Hudson River Valley. Sadly, it is in a  poor state at the moment. Nevertheless, if you want to see something unique, exciting and inspiring, it's well worth the trip. Take the train and enjoy the fabulous views of the river on the way.

More to the point, a thorough education in American landscape design and architecture will favor a visitor to Wright's house more than one who goes untutored. Likewise, a few minutes in front of the Mona Lisa, or Thomas Cole's  Oxbow will, imho, be a deeper experience with an education and an experienced eye in one's background. Otoh, knowing that chef Colicchio had a model or an inspiration, or a set of influences for Craft might well enhance one's understanding of how and why the restaurant came to be, but I agree with those who say that it would have little impact on whether I have a good time there. Of course, those who know me know that I would bitch about the real Italian deal, but this is as much for my own amusement as anything else, although anyone who hasn't had the experience I've been lucky enough to have had is lacking an important contextual element. It's my personal opinion that a lot of New York City diners, even well- experienced professionals, haven't had it, and it shows.

With respect to the idea of intention, I think in the case of Craft, it is useful to know that its intention is to present the best available ingredients in simple preparations. Fine. I will go there - and I will go there - expecting exactly that. If I get it, in pleasant surroundings, with good service, I will be happy. If I don't, I will complain about it. I see this as a fair outcome of the bargain made between restaurant and customer: the restaurant reasonably offers something; I reasonably expect to receive that something in return for paying for my meal. I'm entitled to express my opinion of my meal, and the better equipped I am, the better able I will be to communicate my feelings. So, some context, yes; some intention, yes, but I also agree that the proof indeed is in the pudding. Why else would thay have made up such a silly expression?

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Steve, I certainly concur with that. Without the massacre at Guernica. Picasso probably would not have addressed the Spanish Civil War theme the way he did. From looking on the Web, I learned that a group of pro-Democracy friends and officials asked him to paint a mural with the theme of the Spanish Civil Ward for the 1937 International Exposition in Paris. Three months later, the Guernica massacre occured and Picasso decided to used it as the theme for his mural, so enraged was he over the slaughter. When asked to talk about the "Guernica" mural, his remarks, as written on the web site, were, "A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it is finished, it goes on changing according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it." I never saw this remark from Picasso before, but am not surprised by it.

Robert S. Thanks for the information about Russel Wright's home in Garrison. I will certainly visit it as soon as possible and read about it before I go. I have to admit that I should have thought about certain restaurants in Italy when I was at Craft. You are right about that. In fact, that may be the most saliant aspect of it, even more so than Colicchio talking about the steakhouse influence. (Worth asking him is where he liked eating in Italy: I assume he has). The two restaurants that come to mind at Belvedere in La Morra (Piemonte) in the Barolo district and Delfina, a bit west of Florence. Let us know what you think of Craft and what in Italy it reminds you of.

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Don't forget that The Emperor's New Clothes is not an ancient fairy tale such as those reported by the Brothers Grimm, but a quaint modern concoction by Hans Christian Andersen. It should therefor be approached, not as a repository of folk wisdom, but as a piece of tailor-made (!)modern fiction like any other.

Correct, it's the work of an individual, but it's entered our children's literature as a classic. My guess is that its copyright is no longer in effect as I believe I've seen so many editions in varying shapes, sizes and translations, that I have no problem separating how it's used from who wrote it.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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What does poverty have to do with the painting of masterpieces when so many of the greatest works of fine and applied art of all time were commissioned  by the Church for the benefit and enlightenment of the populace?

We're getting so far afield here that I hate to respond, but "propaganda" might replace "enlightenment" in some people's minds. I'd further point out that the church was able to be a patron of the arts for precisely the same reason as dukes, princes and kings were--they had the funds.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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And if the downside of things being valued according to popular choice is that a marketing director makes decisions and not an artist/chef, it also comes with an upside that who gets to dine in an establishment is determined by merit, and isn't hand chosen by royals or clerics.
Continuing my "typically American" theme, please note that this argument assumes that merit and the wherewithall to patronize fiendishly expensive restaurants are coterminous. :smile:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Robert B. & S. - I tried to raise this point earlier about chefs like Collichio and Portale being influenced by Italian cuisine. Does it come down to the fact that their "American cuisine" has adopted the Italian stratagia of non-stock based cooking, and slow cooking foods to eke out the maximum natural flavor from the ingredients? The interesting question is whether they are consciously aware of their choice? I should add that the American steakhouse is predominantly derived from speakeasys of the 1930's which were mainly operated by Italian immigrants.

"please note that this argument assumes that merit and the wherewithall to patronize fiendishly expensive restaurants are coterminous."

J.W. - Well how else should merit be rewarded? A better belief in God? One who cedes to the the wishes of a monarchy or government in the best manner? To vary from the "Amercan way," one has to implement a system that rewards merit in a way other than being decided by people who want to participate in that choice.  What should happen, should we give the decision as to who gets to eat in restaurants to panels of people who make choices for the populace (this is the French way no, or how it works at a university?) While the public is willing to cede control of those types of decisions when it comes to educational and cultural institutions, why would they cede it in regards to a consumer activity like eating at a restaurant?

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Steve, I don't hold myself out as an expert in Italian food, or in any kind of food, for that matter. What I do have is a lot of experience eating Italian food, and a pretty good memory for it, especially the "cucina casalinga", or home cooking, which often finds its way into local restaurants.

I mentioned on another thread that Italian cooks and diners would be nonplussed by most of the intense conversation dedicated to terroire. To them, it's all part of living each day. Their own intense conversations, usually held over a meal, revolve about where the next meal will be and what it will consist of.

I think I also mentioned elsewhere that, as in art, simplicity is extremely difficult to achieve. Sitting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, the roasted potatoes with rosemary may seem logical, effortless, quintessentially of their time and place. At Craft, a similar preparation, I have the impression, comes loaded with import (and expense), and this may be because the dish and all that is behind it, is somehow out of its time and place; that is, not simple. I'm not sure I'm being clear about this, but I'm not sure either that I have the strength to be any clearer. I would just add that the piece of huckleberry pie I had at a diner in Silverton, Colorado last fall was perfect in that modest way I'm getting at. It resonated in harmony with its surroundings. It was $2.50.

Are our guys here in NY aware of what they're doing? Good question. I think Batali is, but then, he's running Italian restaurants and calling them that. If what Chef Colicchio is doing at Craft is something new in the direction of cuisine in America, then maybe I should keep quiet and try to learn from others smarter than I am what that direction is, and what he's trying to do. Maybe if he reads this, he will help me and us to understand. Most of all, can't wait to go there.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Well, I had to go back and read this one from the beginning in an attempt to figure out what happened to the thread.  Not sure I've succeeded, although it's clear that mention of "art" anywhere on egullet causes a stampede.

Although I am not clear on what precise issues are at stake, I can't resist making several assertions:

1.  Whether an artist's views on his or her work are valuable or not very much depends on what those views are.  And the same goes for the views of critics.  I don't know why you need to decide on an a priori basis whether artists in general are authorities on what they create.  Some are, some aren't.  I read some short essays by Stuart Davis on his paintings at the weekend, and they were brilliant, hilarious and enlightening.  It isn't always that way.

2.  The intentionalist fallacy should be regarded, I suggest, as the fallacy that the artist is an unimpeachable authority on his or her intentions, and that his or her views, therefore, are an essential basis for understanding the art work.  It is a fallacy, because no-one is an unimpeachable authority on his or her own intentions.

3.  There are at least two different kinds of symbolism in art.  There is that which draws on the historic symbolism of a culture, and there is that which draws on personal symbols from the artist's own life.  Many artists, of course, use both.  Anyone - the artist, a critic, a historian or a layperson - might provide a fair interpretation of the former.  Understanding the latter will require, if not the artist's own views, then at least some knowledge of the artist's life.

4.  I can't understand the claim that Warhol is "contentless".

Pick the bones out of that lot!   :biggrin:

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Steve, your argument is merely an impenetrable apologia for Spenserian economics. My point was not that one form of elite selection is superior to another, but that access to expensive restaurants continues to be limited to a small number of diners who are arbitrarily chosen by their circumstances. Four-star dining can hardly be rated as one of life's necessities, but to suggest that it is available on "merit" would be considered laughable in any country other than our own.

P.S. Wilfrid, your last posting is a model of clarity.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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