If you enjoy reading the unfiltered crowing of a megalomaniac—and the experience really does have its moments—check out the latest edition of Gastronomica, wherein former restaurant owner Jozseph Schultz explains why his old eatery, India Joze, was the best in the universe, ever. It may have even been, he slyly implies, the best in the theoretical multiverse proposed in Hugh Everett’s “many-worlds” interpretation of cosmology.
The restaurant was mind-blowingly ambitious: “a funny thing happened on the way to the fulfillment of infinite culinary choice and the unlimited expansion of gustatory connoisseurship.”
It was affordable because it was so darn moral: “my culinary acolytes and I were willing to work hard for far too little, because we were advancing a class-blind system of food good enough for anyone but cheap enough for everyone—a brotherhood of food.”
It was pancultural: “Disgusted with the mainstream American diet, I sought the bliss of transcendence through the cooking and consumption of unusual foods.”
It was pioneering: “I was feeding the community locally grown, natural, and ethnic foods at a time when those categories were unproblematic and seemed perfectly aligned with each and with the Good.”
Schultz also refers to the publications that wrote him up (the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, etc.), his “street cred” with local organic farmers, the “shining historical moment” that made his amazing restaurant possible, his true motivation for opening a restaurant (“I wanted to provide opportunities for people to enjoy companionship”), and the restaurant’s out-and-out daring nature (“we engaged in extreme flavor sports”).
It’s entirely possible he’s right about all this stuff, and I look forward to Santa Cruz, California, residents chiming in with validation or challenges to Schultz’s litany of claims. And somewhere amid all the grandstanding, there is an interesting point: The quest for adventure that once united sophisticated eaters has become a tangled mess of trends, snobbish biases, and general uptightness that now drives people apart. All in all, the article is a marvelously engaging tour de windbag that demands attention, and deserves at least some of the attention it will get.