In my first job out of college, I had the good fortune of working for the ultimate foodie. I have never met, nor probably will ever meet someone of this caliber who had the means and in the inclination to travel and sample the best food in the world. Conversing with this man, I felt nervous and antsy, feeling this incredible urge to quit my job, win the lottery, and simply travel and eat for the rest of my life. I felt horribly uneducated in that I had never been to the places he’d been, and eaten the places he’d eaten. I still, very much, feel this way, and am forever kicking myself for never having traveled in school. Though I never had much of the wish to go abroad (college was way too marvelous for that), I forever regret not traveling in the summer months, as I could have done through my school. Gone are my months-long vacations spent in Chicago (which as any Chi-town native can tell you are amazing) but remember, my interest in food and travel has established itself in recent years. Now, as a working girl, I am using literally all but two of my vacation days for a trip to Italy in August (I am positively giddy about this trip; wait ‘til I tell you about the restaurants I go to there, dear readers!).
Anyway, my boss would frequently drive me home from work as we lived in the same neighborhood, and it took me a train and a bus to get to and fro. In these car rides, we discussed, aside from work, our mutual passion for food, wine, and travel. One day, we were discussing Spain. This is the country that I most long to go to, as I have watched the way people speak of it, and heard them describe its food, its architecture, and its beauty with idolatrous enthusiasm. As if I didn’t need another reason to go there, my boss suddenly spoke the name El Bulli. No, I hadn’t heard of it. No big deal, apparently it’s just the best restaurant in the world.
Hearing of this, I immediately go home and research it. I encourage whoever reads this to do the same. Only open half the year, people (such as my boss) sign up at 12 am Spanish time on New Years Eve to get a reservation. Reading about this place is reading about any true foodie’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The chef, Ferran Adria, does what no other has done before him in a little house outside of Barcelona. In this small space, people flock across the globe to see what wondrous creations he and his chefs spend the other half of the year developing.
I told everyone I thought would give a hoot about this restaurant, and how it was my now in my bucket list. I had to experience this place before I died. And then, one day as I am perusing twitter updates (I follow the New York Times), I see the article that is at the beginning of this page. Rage ensues, as my dreams shattered before me upon reading that article. Shame on Ferran… Opening up a culinary school? That will sometimes serve lunch?! I don’t care if you’re losing money (okay, that sucks and I’m sorry) but what about me? ME!
I guess, as a girl who hasn’t even been to effing Alinea (yes I’m a foodie, but that shit’s expensive, and I haven’t made my glory and riches just yet), I should take some steps before setting my culinary aspirations so high. However, it did indeed break my heart, for I was simply someone who has longed to experience this place, even if it was years down the road… What would my ex-boss say? Where is my Culinary Pilgrimage to now?