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26 September 2012 @ 08:22 pm
Do you believe food can be spoiled? (No, not that way. The other way.)  

Originally published at Scott Edelman. Please leave any comments there.

As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I fell so in love with Next restaurant while in Chicago last month that I was unable to resist booking a Kitchen Table for its current Kyoto menu, which only runs until the end of the year.

One reason I wanted the Kitchen Table, which seats six, rather than the other tables for two or four, is that it’s the only table per seating that gets a few extras unavailable to the other diners. (And you know how much I love my amuse bouche.) And while searching on @NextRestaurant over at Twitter—because I’m hungry not just for food, but for learning more about the food which will be satiating that hunger—I discovered that a fellow foodie by the name of MaryMary had tweeted the following photo.

The pic seemed amazing to me, and not just because the duck made me think, “Get in my belly!” No, it was the caption:

“Duck, served out of a 200 year old duck”

I knew that even the settings on which Chefs Achatz and Beran served their food was mind-blowing, but a 200-year-old bowl? Astounding.

Why am I bringing this up to you, especially since most of you will likely never get to enjoy this meal? Because I’d like to hear from you—is it possible for a meal to be spoiled? (And no, I don’t mean that way. I mean the other way.)

Before my dinners at Next and Alinea last month, I looked at as many pics and read as many reviews as I could find online for both restaurants, feeling as if that increased anticipation would commensurately increase my enjoyment. (And this is from someone who hates spoilers about books, movies, and television!) At the same time, there are other foodies, equally as dedicated, who want to know very little about the meal that will be put in front of them, save the spare basics, so that each dish comes as a surprise.

I don’t believe that for me, food can be spoiled, any more than looking at postcards of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night” would cause me to be disappointed when standing before the original canvas. No amount of advance study could destroy that experience.

The same is true for me with food, which when created at the level of art, is equally as transcendental, taking me out of my body, lifting me above the physical plane. I’ve heard it said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and whether or not you accept that premise, I find the same is true for food imagery and essays. What happens in the brain and what happens on the tongue are two very different things, and those teasers (spoilers, if you will) can only stoke desire, and never lessen the experience when it finally arrives.

Well … for me anyway. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

So which kind of foodie are you? And why?