I once read a study indicating that people were more apt to purchase a cookbook with a recipe for tarte tatin than apple pie. Will order the torte over the tart, and the tarte over the tart. Will favor themselves a bit of fancy, even if it’s only a perception. It’s why menus insist eggs are "farm-fresh," bacon is "thick-sliced," and sandwiches are "Homemade," as if a sandwich could be anything but. The fact is, we feel by proximity.
We order the tarte tatin and feel that much more refined ourselves. Dine at a restaurant where the linens are pressed and have a sheen only produced by the finest of cotton, and we find our postures are slightly straighter, our elbows off the table.
Last I was at my mother’s home in Jupiter, Fl, we took a boat ride on the intracoastal, along Jupiter Island, past the homes of google-worthy celebrities: Tiger (the golfer, not the anxious jumping thing who’s a friend of Pooh), Celine (the one married to her manager, not the handbag), Burt (the one with the ‘stache not the unibrow). Seeing the outdoor kitchens and billowing linen drapes, I didn’t feel jealous; I felt lovely. It felt like an enchanting evening. All I needed was a shower, a white sweater set, and a crisp glass of white, with a hint of honeysuckle and melon. Perhaps an orchid pinned behind my ear. It felt like vacation, like a necklace made of white shells, a tie-dyed sarong.
Mere proximity to the majestic landscaping delivered a windswept evening of winsome smiles. I could almost hear Ella Fitzgerald croon. I’m not delusional. There’s just something about proximity, as if spotting a celebrity makes you feel more (or less depending on his/her behavior) connected in some way. It’s why we read magazines with full-bleed images, dog ear the pages of gourmet magazines where the shopping alone would take all Twelve Days of Christmas–never mind the actual preparation. It’s why we all love to watch Paula Deen. We want her warmth and love for life in our own lives.
It’s why when I’m out at a restaurant I’m enjoying, I ask the waitress if I can have a copy of the cocktail menu… to go. That is, when I’m home, I want to recreate the magic. To bring salt-swept streets and gin-soaked nights through the doors of our home. In fig-infused Jim Beam Black, with navan vanilla liqueur, orange bitters, and grilled grapefruit juice (El Guillermo at La Condesa). Knowing the beans are upstairs asleep, we can open our porch doors, turn the dial on the stereo up, and toast to life, and drink to us.