The food: steak frites at Le Select
For a recent Globe and Mail round-up review of serious food books, I read David Kessler’s The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable North American Appetite.
Part One of the book, called “Sugar, Fat, Salt,” is devoted to analyses of why and how we respond to the hedonic, palatable foods that contain a combination of those subtances. I’m talking about chocolate mousse made with fleur de sel, for instance, or a BLT sandwich loaded with salty, fatty bacon and sweet tomato slices slathered with more sweet, fatty mayonnaise.
I get the appeal of salt, sugar, and fat wrapped up in one package – that’s why I lament the seasonal-only distribution of PC Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels with Sea Salts, a product which should be available all year round, in my opinion.
But my hedonic meals of choice have historically been those that feature a starchy food (like bread or potatoes) infused with salt and fat, no sugar added.
So when I attended a welcome dinner for author instructors of this year’s Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop in Creative Writing, at Le Select restaurant in Toronto last week, I salted the butter on my bread and I ordered steak frites for my entree.
The steak was tender and juicy, the frites salty and soft with crisped edges – I ate every one. Between bites, I talked about realism in fiction, among other topics, with some of my fellow instructors: writers Isabel Huggan, Rachel Kushner and Erika de Vasconcelos.
I enjoyed my food, but something was missing from my plate, some small additional element or condiment that would have made the whole experience more satisfying. What, though? Wait, I knew – a dab of mustard would have complemented the steak and potatoes perfectly. Sweet honey mustard.
I think Kessler might be onto something.