Doyenne of the locavore movement, defender of the schoolyard organic garden and quintessential Berkeleyite Alice Waters spoke at the L.A. Times Festival of Books yesterday morning. A crowd of nearly a thousand gathered to watch her present, completely extemporaneously, a series of demonstrations on simple food that came from the Hollywood farmers' market an hour earlier, meant to underline the point in her new book, In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn By Heart.
Her sous-chef made fava bean dip, which is a breakfast
staple in the Levant, and a fantastic-looking aïoli in what seemed like
no time whatsoever; Alice whipped together a vinaigrette with a shocking
amount of vinegar (she and I are alike in our love of vinegar) and
tossed it into a salad with her hands.
The questions for her were, frankly, depressing; three in a row were a
depressing clash of reality vs. Alice Waters about how to store food in
the refrigerator when the entire point of her presentation was about
keeping the vitality of vegetables by using them as quickly as possible.
Regardless of the validity of her point, the juxtaposition with the
audience questions was nearly painful.
This year's Festival of Books was, frankly, weaker than most for food
lovers. Few cookbooks were sold, few cookbook-centric stores were
represented and few chefs spoke. The restaurant selection was dismal; there's nothing quite like watching Alice Waters have her way with
unbelievably high-quality vegetables on stage and then being presented
with lunch choices like Carl's Jr., California Pizza Kitchen and Panda