A new book puts goat cheese salad in perspective.
In the 1980s, when “nobody knew what the hell charmoula and romesco was, and none of us was in it for fame or glory or cookware dreams,” former Chez Panisse chef Joyce Goldstein opened Square One—among the first S.F. restaurants to adjust menus daily and pair wines by the glass. “It never dawned on anybody how big the change was—to go from a yearly to seasonal to daily menu; how open kitchens affected service,” Goldstein says. And when the time came for a definitive record of California cooking, UC Press knew the exact person to pen it. After almost 200 interviews with chefs, critics, food artisans, iconoclast winemakers and restaurateurs, the doyenne has tracked a 30-year shift in design, casualization and style with Inside the California Food Revolution. Goldstein dissects tastes like mesclun, raspberry vinegar and Laura Chenel goat cheese. There’s Sally Schmitt’s French Laundry—15 years before Thomas Keller; Acme’s founder baking bread in his college dorm; and chanterelle mushrooms coming to market. “I’ve written 26 cookbooks, and I’ve never tackled food history,” Goldstein explains from her S.F. kitchen. “But I thought, I’ve been here since 1960, I’ve seen the whole thing, and they’ll take my call. If I’d been some young reporter, they’d never talk the way they did.” So is it really a revolution? Goldstein thinks so. “To have modern art on the walls at Michael’s? And no tuxedos? That’s a revolution.”
Written and edited by Alison Clare Steingold