There\’s a marvelous scene in \”Lawrence of Arabia\” where Peter O\’Toole, playing T.E. Lawrence, looks out at the vast, empty desert and says something like, \” I like the desert. It\’s … clean.\” And I\’ve always admired that particular breed of slightly potty Englishmen — the Arabists, cartographers, explorers, spies, scholars and mischief-makers–who fell in love with the 360 degree vistas of sand and sky they found in the Middle East. I saw that same love up close in the face of our Bedouin guide, who spends, he said, most of his time out there, roaring around in 4×4 vehicles with his buddies, sleeping under the stars, answerable to no one.
And I was happiest during my stay in Egypt sitting under those same stars, a fire crackling and throwing off sparks nearby, belly full of roast lamb, surrounded — as far as the eye could see — by nothing but the dark rises of an ocean of sand. But Cairo was another matter. Continue reading: Without Pyramids »
An interesting visual, phenomonen occurred during the editing of the Spain show. Though Albert Adria had graciously agreed to appear in a scene in the El Bulli \”taller\” (workshop), and another (since edited out) at a restaurant in Barcelona, like some kind of ghostly optical illusion, or a \”Where\’s Waldo\” book, he kept popping up.
The hapless, ZPZ tape-loggers, caffeine-jacked myrmidons who toil away in the filthy sub-cellar of our corporate headquarters, reviewing hour after hour of mind-numbingly repetitive and boring video tape, noticing this spectral apparition, began to lose their already tentative grips on reality. One scene after another, a glimpse here, a face in the crowd there, lurking suspiciously in the background in another scene, down the bar a few positions, pretending he doesn\’t know me in another — or front and center; there he is.
It\’s Albert\’s very ubiquitousness in the raw footage, his omnipresence — even in the scenes where the viewer won\’t see him, that tells you all you need to know about Spain — and how damn good it is. Continue reading: Envy »
Tonight and next Monday night, two episodes in a row of some of the purest, hardest, straight-to-the-action, food porn we\’ve ever done on NO RESERVATIONS. And there are no better places on earth to get right to the heart of the good stuff than Japan and Spain.
There are, on reflection, some similarities between the two destinations: in both cultures, the very best ingredients, presented in all their unadorned, un-fussed with, pristine simplicity, are celebrated and enjoyed with great enthusiasm. The cult of jamon in Spain, for instance, bears some resemblance to the Japanese obsession with the very best tuna. Neither culture requires additional ingredients or garnish to get the point. I love seeing what happens to Western chefs after visiting Japan for the first time. A very fine Italian chef friend of mine returned typically traumatized by what he\’d seen and experienced. Weeks later, he still had that uniquely blissed out, confused, sort of hangdog look on his face — an expression I can only compare to what happens after you\’ve had the first really, really good sex of your life. It\’s a look that says, \”I thought I knew a few things. But apparently I don\’t.\” It\’s devastating. Continue reading: Strictly Hardcore »