“What does the sign say?”
“Well, basically, that they don’t want you to take pictures.”
Oh, I sighed. I felt disappointment, but somehow, relief. I feel like I can’t effectively explain a phenomenal meal to other people without photos. If I wasn’t allowed to take photos, then there was nothing to be done. My friends would have to rely on my word, alone.
But then the dishes started to come. First, the teasers: little bits of fish tartare, mousses, house-made crackers with chorizo cream cheese, brochettes, divine delectable little nibbles whose contents I didn’t all note down but whose precision and deliciousness made my head begin to spin. How am I going to be able to remember all of this? I thought. My dining partners didn’t seem to be bothered: this was the latest in a long list of Michelin-starred eating they had experienced. For me, it was one of the first.
When the plate of salmon gravlax with herbed emulsion was set before me, I decided I could no longer obey. “Excuse me, is it all right if I take a photo?”
“Sure, just no flash please.”
In retrospect, I can tell you that photos don’t do it proper justice. Only memory does, and even then, it’s not the specific memory of every single thing that was on this marvelous plate:
For me, the memory that serves this meal justice must be similar to that of the most excruciatingly beautiful opera to the classical music fan, the most impressively skilled ballet performance to the dance fanatic. The meal was not a meal. Fine cuisine is a performance art, not only laid out before us, but produced all around us when we are in it’s laboratory. In the words of Guy Savoy, “Cooking is the art of transforming products loaded with history into instantaneous joy.” (“La cuisine est l’art de transformer instantanément en joie des produits chargés d’histoire.”)
I am willing to argue that it is the highest form of performance art. Not only is the spectator nourished, but in the best adaptation of this art form, each of the senses are delighted.
The plates with their ribbed matte-finish rims that were a pleasure to touch. The sounds of the champagne popping, the lightly set music playing, the stark footsteps of the expert waiters serving. The colors in the dining room: dark brown, tainted wood, black, burgundy, cream. The flowers. The scents. The drinking glasses: smooth for the diners who request still water, ribbed for the diners who request sparkling.
I’m getting to the point where I feel at a loss for words, so, I hope that I can let the pictures speak for themselves:
Thank you to Christian Bau and his staff for this incredible show. Thank you to my dining partners for showing me the ropes!
Visited in May 2015; menu “Paris-Tokyo”
Victor’s Gourmet Restaurant at Schloss Berg
Schloßstraße 27 -29, 66706 Perl, Germany