April 23, 2003




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Without Reservations
By Paul Reidinger


EAGLE-EYED readers might notice this page looks a bit different from its predecessors. We have, for one thing, entered the Age of the Ampersand, and we have done that because, in the pages following, we have substantially expanded our coverage of gastronomy – food and drink, and aren't they a handsome couple? – in these parts, the heartland of American gastronomy.

The mix is broad. It includes the return of an old favorite, Stephanie Rosenbaum's Table Ready, a column for DIY food types (like me). In the unlikely event that a Table Ready recipe, or indeed any recipe, throws you a wobbly, you can now appeal to the culinary wisdom of Dame Evelyn Grosvenor-Smythe, who, despite a reputation for Englishness, has a way in the kitchen and with the language. The column is called Well Done, and you can reach Dame Evelyn, night and day, weekends and holidays (when of course the great food crises are most likely to arise), at welldone@sfbg.com. And drinkers, should there be any in the readership, will doubtless enjoy the wit and wisdom of Bottle Rockets, a column that takes as its subject the wide world of intoxicating beverage.

And that's just this week. In subsequent weeks we will offer guidance to those who (despite the benevolent ministrations of Dame Evelyn) cannot cook and hate to leave the house yet must eat (hint: Styrofoam clamshells), to those who obsess about trans fats and food labels and overfishing (boo! me again), and to those who have forsworn meat in their diet. Meantime, we'll keep writing about restaurants here and there, new and old, grand and not; restaurants that serve pad thai or burgers or grilled John Dory with beurre blanc on a bed of blanched baby vegetables, with artichoke salsa verde on the side.

It would be absolutely Rumsfeldian to say that by the time you've finished reading Food and Drink, you'll know all that's worth knowing about what to put in your mouth for the upcoming week. So we won't say it. We will say that you're sure to know more than you did before you started reading. And we will add that part of the pleasure of expanded food and drink coverage, whether one's role is to put the coverage together or to take it in as a reader, is that the coverage can never be truly comprehensive. There is always some new corner to explore, some new mystery to ponder. Our food culture is as changeable as the people, the weather, the land itself; it is alive, and as Mr. Spock once instructed us (in an episode whose title escapes me), change is the essential condition of all life.

Contact Paul Reidinger at paulr@sfbg.com.