I'm concerned about food having soul. Sometimes, in the hands of a seriously gifted cook, a simple head of cabbage can and will speak to you. When you have those moments, they are magical. What makes that moment? Is it skill? Sure, but that's not all of it. There's something else there. Have you ever heard Wilson Pickett sing Hey Jude or Aretha Franklin sing The Weight? They're digging in. It's dirty, greasy singing and it's amazing. I'm driving for that feel with food.
Strangely enough, I think about performances like Wilson Pickett or Aretha Franklin or Amos Lee when I'm working on menus. In today's restaurant world, it's easy to get sucked in to the whirlwind of 'who's doing the hot new thing?' and 'who's coming up with the most unusual flavor combinations'. Sometimes, when I feel like we're just trying to hard or maybe doing something different just for the sake of doing something different, I take a step back and listen to music. Are we digging in? Is this dish soulful? My goal is always to come back to the soul of the food and hit the root of it. 'Interesting' will take care of itself as long as there's soul.
The corn fritters in the picture above are a soulful memory for me. I grew up watching my mom fry those fritters on hot summer evenings and when she would turn her back, I would pull them from the paper towels she was draining them on and pop them straight in my mouth. Yes, there were evenings when only a couple of fritters made it to the dinner table. My dad and I were seasoned fritter thieves. Now, those fritters are about to make an appearance on the Josephine dinner menu and have already been featured as a snack on our X|X:josephine menu. Every time I mix that batter and drop them in hot grease, I'm transported back to my parent's kitchen. I hope you'll stop by Josephine and try some of these fritters. I know they have soul and I know you'll love them!