IN SEARCH OF THE EXTRAORDINARY
BY / JENIFER LANG
A very sophisticated woman of a certain age recently quipped, “The clothes I wear today to go out at night I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing to the supermarket thirty years ago.” That got me to thinking about how much fashion has changed in just a generation. And when I say fashion, I mean food fashion, since that’s my obsession.
If it’s true, as fashion anthropologists report, that the formal clothing of today is the casual clothing of the past, then the same can be said for the evolution of food. The high end restaurants of this era are serving food that was decidedly low end in our parents’ time. This became clear to me when I visited the Louis XV restaurant in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, when it first opened under the direction of Alain Ducasse. In one of the most formal dining rooms in the world (the Louis XV was the first restaurant to offer little upholstered stools to hold ladies’ handbags during dinner), one could order a completely boned-out pig’s foot, breaded and crisp-fried. Mon Dieux! Shocking, and shockingly delicious.
First the de-formalizing of the food, then came the atmosphere. Some of the most highly touted restaurants in the world today are emphatically informal. The Spotted Pig, which has been hotter-than-a-pistol since it opened a couple of years ago in the West Village, doesn’t take reservations, and many of its seats are backless. No teeny upholstered stool for your purse in that place.