When the dominant culture behaves immorally, the way the United States was about the war, civil rights, and freedom of public expression, you begin to feel betrayed. That feeling started crystallizing for me while I was listening to Mario Savio. Somewhere along the way, in our country’s rush to industrialization and consumerism, it began to feel like America had lost its humanity… American culture in the 1950s and ’60s was simultaneously corrupt and puritanical, very closed-minded. I could tell it was about fear, for sure. But the people of the Free Speech movement Movement were speaking my language; their message felt right. And the reason it felt right, I think, was that my parents had taught me certain basic values: morality, empathy, frugality, love of nature, love of children… Those were all values adopted by the counterculture — because, sadly, they had been forgotten by the culture at large.
– Alice Waters, in her memoir “Coming to My Senses” (2017)
When I was a sophomore in college, I went with a close friend to Alice Waters’ famous restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Oakland, California. We had heard of its role bringing unprocessed food back into restaurants and its founder’s role rebuilding the national prestige of farmers. I can vividly see the scene through my 19-year-old eyes: a wooden table in front of me and my friend, a small plate before us boasting toast, covered with mushrooms and greens. We honestly weren’t full after that meal, though it was the most expensive lunch we had that year. Still, I left it with the glow I often feel after approaching something historical. I remember leaving the restaurant, squinting my eyes under a bright sun, and feeling like we were stepping back into reality after a dream. As if I were starstruck. Read the rest of this entry »