The isolation experienced by chefs is reflected in the food.
Food that is fried, heavily salted, high in fat, very colorful, and either served in huge portions or in miniature, like works of art, so that the customer understands that the cooks, often wearing tats as sleeves, bearded, enraptured by heavy metal or rap, are inviting you to a party.
It’s the kind of food that people love when they’re drunk or stoned. Chefs aren’t intoxicated, but they understand what makes people happy, and that’s food which isn’t complicated, has an immediacy, and is so rich in flavor that every bite is as good as the one before it.
Stoner cuisine, man.
Stoner cuisine is found in high end and hole in the wall restaurants: Pork belly, trotters, tails, and all kinds of guts. Even healthier stuff, from the sea, is doused with hot sauce or double fried or plated atop as many as a dozen spices.
This is the culinary version of the chef saying that he’s cool and you’re not. Bonus: Customer get so thirsty, they drink more.
Best of all, it’s wartime cooking: Shock and awe.
Stoner Cuisine really took off in this country, at just around the time when the U.S. invaded Iraq. The chef wants to shock you. He wants you to be in awe of his food.
Me, I’m waiting for food cooked at times of peace, with less noise and drama, and more attention paid to the way things taste.
War is over if you want it.