Circumstance more than Pomp
An easy question to start with as you're getting to know someone is, "what's your favorite bar/restaurant?" Its a way to find something smaller yet discussion-worthy to propel things a bit deeper. But despite the potentially interesting responses and discussion this question can create, I tend to struggle with it. For me, I tend to view most places outside the lens of what they serve and more through the lens of the environment and experience they offer. So I find it hard to answer the question until I consider things like: Who am I with? What time of day is it? What's the weather like? What's our mood or the mood we're looking to create? How comfortable vs. provoked do we want to be? Once I begin to have more context around a situation, I can paint a better picture about where I want to go, if I prefer my own house or perhaps somewhere outside would be best.
This morning I read a piece in Esquire about chef Francis Mallman. Sidebar: if you haven't seen the Chef's Table about him, you should consider it.
The Esquire article discusses the primordial approach to cooking and reclusive nature of the chef. Despite the celebrity he has achieved, public appearances and "fancy" cuisine are not things he pursues. His primary residence is in a remote part of Patagonia, which the author described as taking 25 hours to reach from New York and ending with a 90 minute winter ride in a motorized rubber boat, leaving him soaked.
Halfway through the piece, Mallman said something that captures how I think about favorite restaurants an bars, "The only reason to eat and drink is to have better conversation." This resonates with me. As someone that half-enjoys cooking, I can find great energy to prepare a meal when other people are involved. But when its just me, it becomes mostly about getting by with food that is tasty enough and hopefully not all that bad for me. But my "favorite" and what would I could really go for takes on a whole new context when presented with a social situation.
Let's talk about bars and restaurants for sure. Let's just go a level deeper on what we're hoping to get out of it.
Go Forth Boldly