. . . Thursday August 18, 2005

Eat Your Words

I once asked a relatively well-known French chef who was cooking a dinner for 12 in my kitchen why his vegetables tasted and looked so much better than mine ever did.

I was sort of expecting to hear a thick French accent explaining that such secrets couldn’t possibly be shared with a culinary civilian such as me.

But instead, the chef paused, picked up a knife, sliced off half a cube of butter and dropped it into a deep pot of steaming vegetables.

While I rarely employ that technique at home, we all sort of know that butter and fat is what makes stuff taste so good when we’re eating out. And while we may love to hear stories of fast food chains who are being pressured to offer lighter and healthier fare, the truth is that, as long as someone else is doing the slicing and dropping, we’re pretty cool with the just add butter strategy.

All this helps explain why restaurants that adopt a lighter menu often retreat to their old ways. The words of praise can only do so much. They need your mouth for another calling. And it turns out that we tend to talk out of one side of our mouth and eat out of the other.

Concentration is important!