Remember when you’re a little kid and you hear someone talking about their recent crush, and they talk about going weak in the knees? And then in your early romantic years you THINK you’ve gone weak in the knees for that person you’re dating at the time. But THEN you actually meet someone who truly gives you that stomach-churning, joint-reducing, heart-palpitating, mind-blowing sensation that lets you know AT LAST what knee weakness is really all about?
Well, that’s what happened to me tonight. I thought for ages I knew what inventive cooking was. I thought forever that I was aware of the limits of the human palate. I thought I had weak in the knees on my kitchen speed dial.
How wrong I was.
Tonight, I went to Alinea. It saddens me that I barely know how to put into words the emotions I have about this unique culinary and dining and sensual experience. Everything from the flavors (who knew wax could be so important as a serving utinsil?) to the textures (frozen white pepper sorbet anyone?) to the scents (goat cheese, onion and rhubarb dessert on lavender pillow, please) – they wowed me.
I’m thinking of what a genius Grant Achatz is and how mesmerized I was by his well-oiled machine. I’m wondering if I’ll ever know anything as tasty as his food again.
More than anything, I’m hoping all of you Juicy Olives put pennies in your jar for whatever splurge makes you happy. Maybe it’s a meal at a dining mecca. Maybe it’s a brand new bike. Maybe you want a new keyboard to fine-tune your piano skills. Maybe you just want to take lessons to learn piano skills!
No matter what, please know that the greatest lesson I can take home with me tonight and the one I want to impart to you is that the splurge is worth it. It is worth every ounce of anticipation, excitement, planning, discussion, dialogue and stress. Take the plunge. Go for the thing that felt out of your grasp yesterday.
Reaching beyond what you thought was yours is so rewarding. It gives you that feeling of knowing what being weak in the knees is. It teaches you that you never really have had a foodgasm, and that the real ones are worth it – and faking it never is. It empowers you and makes you feel full. It gives you a sense of purpose and makes goals exciting, not dreadful.
You may not be interested in giving the poached pear with olive oil and eucalyptus vapors a whirl…and that’s okay. But I urge you to figure out the adventure you’re ready to take, and then stop thinking about it – just jump off the high dive. If you need a push, just ask. I’d be happy to give you the nudge you need to give yourself over to the ecstasy of self-indulgence.