A family friend gifted me a year-long membership to Master Class, the website containing video courses from experts in all kinds of fields. My favorite thus far has been Herbie Hancock on music and Gary Kasparov on chess. I’ve learned so much about being open to life and taking risks from both. One class my spouse and I have enjoyed watching together is about cooking. The class is taught by Alice Waters.
Waters teaches in what appears to be her own home kitchen. It’s got a French country look to it -relaxing and cozy and pleasantly cluttered. Very different than a lot of the modern and contemporary aesthetic (at least where I live). Waters is big on recognizing that food is alive, and that we need to eat what’s local and in season. Not exactly groundbreaking in 2020, but after some light googling I learned that Waters was a big part of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture, sort of a leader in the food wing. I wanted to learn more about her and so I picked up her newest cookbook (with gorgeous illustrations by her daughter Fanny, named after a character in an old film) and her autobiography.
My favorite thing about Waters’ book is that whenever she zooms in on a piece of her past it’s always for a reason. Each story ties directly with her famous Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse or her food philosophy. My second favorite thing about Waters’ book is that she talks so much about all of the sex she had, wine she drank, and drugs she tried. She seems so calm and even conservative in her Master Class, but that just serves as a great reminder not to judge the entirety of a person based on a single characteristic.
Some of my favorite quotes:
“When I see all these things around me in the world that are beautiful, I just want to talk to somebody about them – I want someone else to share in them, see them, smell them, taste them…There’s something about having that enjoyment reflected back to you, when you can feel that mutualism, that shared understanding.”
“We’ve bee made to feel that beauty is expensive – that you can’t afford it, that beautiful things are only for the people who make a lot of money…But you can make your house beautiful no matter what.”
“Art must begin at home. Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” (Quoting William Morris)
I would give this one 3.5 stars out of 5. It’s a nice light read but probably won’t be one you’ll treasure unless you already love Alice Waters.