Hunger comes up a lot in the food world. The obvious help a restaurant can give through donated food is hard to ignore. In Boston, graciously, it rarely is. Our own appetites drive us: to a particular restaurant for a specific item, or to eat more or less.
But we all also have emotional and psychological hungers which drive us. I am definitely in the category of people for whom these gnawing cravings keep me alive, keep me moving forward.
An intro like that could make it seem like I’m trying to go someplace really deep and meaningful with this, but it’s really just a small reflection (and my morning pep-talk).
Last night I finally made it back home to Bergamot. The amuse bouche for the evening was simple, but clever: a small, well-formed dome of apricot purée, topped with some fried-house cured ham. This was not your supermarket ham. There was a smokiness and richness to it that surprised. Salt and sweet are well-known foils; no rocket science there. But what I loved was that the dollop apricot puree domed-up yellow and shiny as if it were an egg yolk. The color was spot on, and the texture was just about right for those of us who like our eggs sunny side up with the yolk barely set. Yet it was apricot purée. A little bit of a taste joke on ham and eggs.
I chatted later in the evening with Chef and Justin whose creation it was. Perhaps because Chef was reflecting on his career, or maybe because Justin is young, yet avidly bringing ingenuity to what could be a throw away task, I started thinking about why anyone does anything. I concluded it was this psychological hunger.
Chef was hungry when he started out, going to NYC without a dime and working his way up in some top kitchens there. I might be wrong, but I assume (and possibly even hope a little bit) that Justin would like his own restaurant someday. And so that hunger comes out everyday, renewing his energy, his attitude, his innovation.
My mother enjoyed Stewart Brand and passed along his reminder to ‘Stay hungry’ to me and my brother. I have always (tried to) taken this to mean staying physically lean as well as always yearning to enrich my life in some new way. I woke up this morning and realized that I am hungry. Perhaps, at last, more hungry than I am scared. And I’m going need to keep it that way. Stoke the hunger. Starve the fear.
What are you hungry for?