Sunday, January 4, 2009

Eating Seattle: A look back at 1986

It's pretty incredible to think of how much has changed in restaurants (and in dining at home, too) in the last 20 years or so. How we've slowly been turning away from the box and back to the farm, away from the machine and back to the hand, away from "convenience at any cost" and toward the hard-earned and appreciated.

I feel like my generation is returning to the joy of the long, shared meal. I have friends (and a husband!) whose idea of a wonderful, perfectly fulfilling night is just eating dinner together, at home or out, and it still amazes me that I've found others like myself. Because of these friends, I feel like less of a weirdo for being completely obsessed with cooking big family meals, and enjoying dinners out more than pretty much any other activity. You can keep your Saturday matinees; I'm going to dim sum.

You might be wondering where all this rambling is coming from. Well, here. It's an article written back in 1986 recapping the dining scene of that year. In it we find out that
Seattle chefs are doing imaginative things with seafood, using techniques that no one attempted in the years of the almighty cow.

They're sauteing, poaching, broiling and serving seafood raw. They're turning it into splendid mousses. They're devising sauces made from ingredients such as tamarind, macadamia nuts and jalapenos.

Of course it's tempting to be all smug and "ha ha, aren't we so superior" about this type of thing (I mean, honestly, jalapenos?), but then you can probably read through any of the recent missives written about the "best tastes of 2008" and pick out the "jalapeno" of this year. I'm as guilty as the next gal at declaring things new and revolutionary, with awe in my voice.

Still, it's a pretty fun read. Take a look.

1 comment:

Fresh-Picked Seattle said...

Shoot - this makes me regret showing restraint on a recent antiquing escapade. I've been buying too many old cookbooks, so I didn't buy one that was all recipes from Seattle restaurants in the early '80's.

The section in the article about the use of the word "fresh" is interesting...the nascent ingredient quality obsession...

Sometimes reading old food trends makes me realize either how cyclical it can be (like fashion) or how much deeper the roots are for things I thought were pretty Now. I read that book The Perfectionist about 3-star guy Loiseau. The writing itself was a little annoying but the story is compelling.

It was interesting to see that chefs were doing a sort of consciously local sourcing (i.e., not just naturally doing it local because it's how it's always been done, but changing remote food source routes back to local producers) like 20 years ago. I'm sure this is a known thing to people inside the industry, but to an outsider who has only recently seen this explosion of "local local local", it was surprising to see it's been a concern for that long.