Brandon GRANIER, Editor
The study of literature brought me to France, and in some ways my love for and interest in gastronomy is, to this day, inextricably bound to the literary. It was in Paris in the early 2000s that I first experienced the heights of gourmandize at such temples as L’Ambroisie and Ledoyen under Christian Le Squer. The gradual development of my palate coincided with questions that arose about the culinary gestures of haute cuisine, and it may be accurate to characterize my orientation towards gastronomy as an attempt to think the gourmandize aspects in their relation to semiotics, rather than each element distinctly.
Sensation and ideas, are they dichotomous or bound up, and if so, how precisely? Such questions give me food for thought. Indeed, my lifelong preoccupation might be found in the problematic of interpretation, and in 2014 I finished my Ph.D. dissertation in Comparative Literature on the tensions between deconstruction and hermeneutics at UC-Irvine, a former bastion of deconstructive criticism. Like my colleagues at Gastromondiale, I seek to understand how terroir- and tradition-based haute gastronomy can flourish in a globalized market that has increasingly encouraged homogenized repertoires. My travels are aimed at finding the acme of what is developing in cultures with deep-rooted traditions, most significantly in Japan, China, France and Italy but also recently in India, Thailand and Greece. Perhaps akin to Olivier Roellinger or the narrator of À la recherche du temps perdu, I possess an insatiable wanderlust to experience the essence of foreign places, and cuisine is one of the most satisfying ways to approach this tantalizing promise. To this end, my studies of foreign languages are essential to how I evaluate cuisine, and I conceive of gastronomy as a lifelong pursuit of tasting, travel, language acquisition, and dialogue. With a more modest budget for wine than I would prefer, I find myself gravitating towards the question of how it can elevate cuisine, and I am a diehard apologist for thinking about the ideal accord mets et vins. The formative dining experiences of my life have been at L’Ambroisie and Ledoyen (under Le Squer) in Paris, Saison in San Francisco, Sushisho Masa in Tokyo, Etxebarri in Spain, Jade Dragon in Macau, Jin Sha in Hangzhou, and Pepe in Grani near Napoli.