adam gopnik's article in the food issue of the new yorker is just one of many beautiful pieces. but i love the way he writes about alain passard, the amazing three michelin star chef in paris, and some archaically poetic french traditions.

he tells how recently, passard bought a chateau in the countryside so he could start a potager, or organic vegetable garden for his restaurant:

"he bought it through a uniquely french practice, in which a younger person buys the property of an older one while the old person is still alive. this gives the older person a cash infusion, and the new buyer gets at least a little use of the property while he or she waits to get it all. the practice can create a situation as intensely delicate as a roman imperial adoption, since the buyer becomes nearly a son or daughter of the house as he begins to occupy it, or bits of it, while, by ancient french cynical conviction, the sudden onset of money combined with the power of spite extends the life of the older person out to the demoralizing edge of immortality."

passard talks about vegetables:

"one sincere action from the garden is worth six skilled actions in the kitchen. when i'm in my kitchen, i shut my eyes and think that i'm [in the garden]....the other day i made a plate of tomatoes--just these tomatoes, sliced the right thickness, salted, and with a dab of balsamic. it was perfect."

and his gardener replies:

"of course, one gesture on the plate demands a thousand acts here in the garden."

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