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Saturday, April 28, 2007 

There are Revolutions and Revolutionaries

And neither need be violent or bloody. Sometimes, they are simply delicious and life affirming.

Take for instance,
Alice Waters, a woman who revolutionized "California Cuisine", Organic and American's relationship with food. NPR had a story on her yesterday on Morning Edition.
With her famed Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Alice Waters helped give rise to a new cuisine based on locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Waters and her biographer discuss what has made the Chez Panisse such an offbeat and memorable place to eat for more than three decades.

Looking back, Waters would say it all began for her with a bowl of cafe au lait. As a student on a sojourn to Paris during the 1960s, Waters had never sipped anything so good. Soon, trips to the French countryside introduced her to the power and pleasure of local foods: mussels just off the boat, freshly pressed virgin olive oil.

Waters came back to Berkeley transformed. She hatched a plan to convert a run-down old house into an elegant bistro.

And thus, Chez Panisse was born.
This little restaurant in an old house on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, California, was the dream of Alice's life, and tonight, August 28, 1971, was its opening night. She had named the restaurant in honor of Honoré Panisse, the most generous and life-loving character in Marcel Pagnol's film trilogy Marius, Fanny, and César. Alice wanted Chez Panisse to be an easygoing, unaffected gathering place, like César's Bar de la Marine on the Old Port of Marseille, where friends could laugh, argue, flirt, and drink wine for hours on end. At Chez Panisse, they could also have something simple and delicious to eat. - Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution.
Take a listen. And, of course, she is dear to our hearts, not only for being a fiesty woman, but because she was a Santa Barbarian for awhile, having attended the University of California, Santa Barbara before she transferred to Berkeley.
Alice Waters didn't yet know Goines at this point, but he was precisely the kind of non–Ken doll she'd hoped to meet when, in January of 1964, she transferred— indeed, fled—up north from the University of California's Santa Barbara campus with three of her fellow disgruntled sisters at the Alpha Phi sorority. "The women we'd met in Santa Barbara were all lined up to get married when they were 22," says Eleanor Bertino, who roomed with Waters on both campuses and also had been her classmate for one year at Van Nuys High School, in Southern California. (Waters grew up in Chatham, New Jersey, but moved west with her family in 1961, her last year before college.) "We pledged the same sorority at Santa Barbara because it was the only way you could have a social life," says Bertino. "Very shortly, there were four of us who were like, Oh, my God—this is not for us. There had to be something more exciting and interesting than living in a sorority. Halfway through our sophomore year, we all transferred to Berkeley. None of us were politically involved, but we just liked the fact that there was activity going on up there. I mean, we were nice girls, not radical at all. I remember going to see an English teacher of mine before I left Santa Barbara, and she said, 'I'll send you brownies in jail.' I had no idea what she was talking about." - Vanity Fair

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