Saturday, October 27, 2007

( hungry ) lessons learned on the journey from fat to thin

I just polished off this delightul morsel by Allen Zadoff. Dear reader, it kicks ass. This is my first book review here, what a great one to start!
Full disclosure: the author, Allen, is what I would consider a Friendly Acquaintance. We haven't been out for coffee, but we've been to many of the same gatherings and chatted at length. I respected him before I read his book. Make of it what you will!
I haven't written about eating disorders before either, because I (luckily) don't have one. However, I think it's hard to be a person in America~ let alone a lady in Los Angeles!~ and not struggle with some body image issues. I have difficulty accepting my juicy thighs, for example (see below) and know many friends who hate their breasts, or are ashamed not to have six-pack abs.

Zadoff's book is the best sort of memoir: he gives up the juicy stuff most people don't divulge, is brutally honest and bitingly funny at the same time. We never drown in a puddle of pity or despair because he doesn't either. He's shockingly compassionate as he reflects on his lowest moments (an example I appreciate!), and explains complex emotional processes and motivations in simple, clear ways that helped me identify my own.
He takes an unflinching survey of his relationship to food and overeating: from his delicious discovery of Devil Dogs at age six through teenage loneliness compensated by large pizzas and Doritos, his frantic run through a zillion failed diets and a mid-twenties full of misery and isolation (with its steady companion, fantasy), until his scale tipped way over 300 pounds. At 28 he finally surrendered and reached out for help; the meatiest cuts of the book follow. His words are best here,
Over the course of a year, more than 100 pounds fell from my body, and my thin life, the one I'd been waiting nearly 30 years for, finally began. It was nothing like I expected. For starters, Calvin Klein did not call with a modeling offer. The gifts of the thin life, which I'd always assumed included a beautiful wife, gorgeous house, and handsome Labrador retriever, did not materialize. My life was not suddenly perfect. It was a lot more interesting than that. It turned out that losing weight was only the first step in a much larger and more amazing journey.
I've read a lot of literature on eating disorders; Zadoff doesn't offer elaborate food plans, "tricks" for cutting calories, or grand theories as to why so many over (or under!) indulge. He does something far more shocking: he gives us a spiritual perspective on the journey "from fat to thin," with humilty and humor. And he admits his slim tome is not a self-help book, "because I cannot help myself." What a delight to hear from someone who admits he needs the wisdom and guidance of others, whether it be the community of overeaters he discovers or his "personal connection to a power greater than myself." His lack of ego and gentle tone actually made me listen a little closer.
I picked it up last night and couldn't put it down until I finished it this afternoon. Please check it out if you're so inclined, what a thrilling ride through a tempestuous Devil Dog sea!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Came, I Comme Ça, I Chowed Down

I recently attended the opening of Comme Ça, chef David Myers' newest venture. (see above and below)

Myers has beautiful eyes and a smoldering intensity (but perhaps more pertinent to this blog!) is a cuisine-forward, thrilling chef to behold. This is his second venture after Sona, a restaurant I love dearly. What I like about his cooking is that it gracefully dances that razor-thin line between
1. advanced, intellectual dishes and
2. food that is actually delicious and accessible.
Most chefs who fall into category 1. completely forget about 2. I love having my brain stimulated while I eat, but ultimately the pleasure that matters most is in the mouth.
But I digress, dear reader, back to Comme Ça!

The focus of all restaurant openings, oddly, isn't the food. Openings are basically an amped up catering experience (seriously, there was a catering truck out back, though to his credit it did belong to Myers), which is ok because the purpose is not to dazzle the palette but rather convince everyone there that This Is The Place To Be! Look at all the cool kids! So hopefully they'll tell their friends, and more cool kids will come (like these gals).

Standard-issue LA Hotties, exhibit A

Comme Ça's opening was quite successful to that effect: it was crammed with hipsters young and grey, well-cut suits and too-cool-for-school $60 t-shirts, a few dedicated foodies, other talented chefs, and a lot of folks eager for free drinks.
And the drinks were superb, oh my goodness. I'd never had scotch with anything other than soda (P.S. I hate scotch, the smell makes me want to hurl), but their fabulous 'Penicillin' with scotch, ginger, lemon and honey made a believer out of me. Sweet Lord, it cured all my ills. Likewise, the 'Rumble' with rum and bruised blackberries was its own modern art, gorgeous in the glass and jiggy on the tongue.
The restuarant will be an LA brasserie, something this city sorely lacks, though I can only assume (and hope!) Myers will put his own tasty twist on the classic French dishes. I was delighted by his Salad in a Spoon. Frisee (I like to think of them as thistles), lardon~though they seemed suspiciously like tiny cubes of pork belly, yum~ and a delicate hard-cooked egg, all in one perfectly assembled bite? Tory heaven.
There were also crusty, lusty breads from Boule, Michelle Myers' gift to the LA pastry (and chocolate!) scene:
But perhaps my favorite part was the 3 cheese stations: goat, cow, and bleu! Excellent cheese is always the right answer:
That tasty bit had butter, a nutty bleu who's name I forget (somebody had one too many Penicillins!), and was drizzled with honey. Decadence of the finest sort.

Let's see, final credits... all the photos here were taken by Victor Rodionoff and pilfered by yours truly from MetroMix (thanks guys!). And look, I even made it into one of them! Yes, I am famous now, very exciting.
>Slightly-more-eclectic LA Hotties, exhibit B

I'm the juicy one, second to right. I can't wait to eat there for real, they open their doors to all tomorrow. Bon Appétit fellow Angelenos!
Comme Ça
8479 Melrose Ave.