In the morning of July 6, James and Lachlan Murdoch were on opposite sides of Sun Valley, Idaho. Lachlan was finishing a workout at the decidedly downtown Ketchum YMCA. James was hiking down a bike trail after attending an early-morning session at the annual Allen & Co. conference. Every July, the conference jams the small Friedman Memorial Airport with the Gulfstream jets of the world’s media and technology billionaires, who gather in the ski town to negotiate their own preservation. James and Lachlan had both attended the conference before, but they were always in the shadow of their father, Rupert Murdoch. This year was different. For the first time, they were there on their own terms, at least for the moment, and it might have felt as if they were finally operating by their own rules.
At a little after 10 A.M., Mountain time, Lachlan pulled out his cell phone and dialed Julie Henderson, the executive vice president and chief communications officer at 21st Century Fox, the Murdoch family company, to check in. “Have you seen the suit?” she asked. “What suit?” he replied. Henderson explained that Gretchen Carlson, a former co-host of Fox & Friends, had sued Roger Ailes personally for sexual harassment.
Being familiar with the mold can help us appreciate those who break it, and looking at fine dining as a timeline alerts us to the ways trends form (groundbreaking!) and fade (overdone). When a restaurant that doesn’t quite fit the mold gains acceptance in the world of fine dining, that’s worth noting. What happens in this relatively small corner of the food world can change the entire landscape. But at its most basic level, we hope this timeline will help orient you to the whos, whats, and whys of fine dining.
I’m often asked if I learned to cook from my mother. I always answer, “yes,” even though I know what they likely envision is far from the truth: a patient woman standing at a counter with tools and ingredients laid out before her in an orderly manner; an attentive child at the woman’s elbow as she measures, chops and pours; the woman explaining each step and the reasons for it. This is not how it was.
Poor punctuation: all rules and no play. Countless style guides over the ages have prescribed the exacting rules for where to put your em-dashes, your en-dashes, your commas, your Oxford commas, your colons—and let’s not even talk about the semi-colon, which has been known to incite fury and debate in even the mildest of punctiliously-inclined folk. Is there anything else so heavily regulated, codified, and coddled as these dull chicken scratchings of written language? Just… follow the rules and no one gets hurt.
For these legendary writers, it became de rigueur to drink, often to excess. Fitzgerald noted that for the American writer, “the hangover became a part of the day as well allowed-for as the Spanish siesta.” Yet this affliction—er, condition—among writers goes back to ancient times. It was the great poet Horace (65-8 B.C.) who observed that, “No poems can please nor live long which are written by water-drinkers.”
The idea of a foreign refuge was attractive to the anxious boy, fearful, as he endearingly explains, of everything from scuffles in the school playground to a nuclear attack, and he was fortunate in having a mother who not only loved to travel but insisted on going well prepared. It developed in him a keen curiosity and a profound interest in the nature of travel itself, in “difference”, and in dealing with strangers. As a reporter, he taught himself to move slowly, take time to get to know the people he met and to look at their worlds without haste or prejudice. “Travel,” he writes, “makes you modest.”
It’s forty-four degrees and cloudy in Moscow; large brick residential buildings loom above a busy boulevard clogged with traffic. It’s sixty-four degrees and rainy in London; passenger boats on the Thames await tourists under a menacing sky. In New York, it’s eighty degrees and clear. The Chrysler Building fights for air, wedged between an uninspired tall black monolith and a truly ugly skyscraper with a pyramidal top. And in Los Angeles it’s seventy-nine degrees and sunny. Again. I can see straight across Universal City to the San Gabriel Mountains—or, if I look out my window instead of at the weather app on my screen, the trees that separate my house from the street.