Friday, June 07, 2013

Occam's Restaurant


David Cain:

With an increasing number of options in almost every aspect of life, we presume that our results in each of those areas should be getting better and better, because with each new possibility it becomes more likely that one of them suits us perfectly. Our expectations for perfection and total satisfaction are too high.

As freedom of choice grows, the perfect career, the perfect partner, the perfect schedule or the perfect salad dressing seem more likely to happen. Perhaps they are, but psychologically we’re less likely to be pleased with whatever we do choose, because our satisfaction with what we have shrinks as the number of things we don’t have — or could have — grows.

...The options at mealtime are a microcosm of the lifestyle options available to the ordinary, free Western citizen. We have never been freer to live how we want to live, which is wonderful and empowering but simultaneously taxing and intimidating. I want to take advantage of the freedoms provided by the incredible time we live in without getting paralyzed by too many options and endless unmade decisions.

Speaking of food, it was in his kitchen that Mark Sandman devised the minimalist aesthetic he later made famous in Morphine's music:

These were simple, common-sense ideas. And Mark liked simple. He once told me that if people really wanted to know about his musical aesthetic, they'd be better off asking him about his cooking techniques. "I've applied a lot of that to my music. For example, for years I made myself a red sauce for pasta with oregano, some thyme, some basil, black pepper, salt, some of this, some of that. I thought that's how you were supposed to make it. Then one day I didn't put anything in. I just forgot. And it was the best sauce I ever made. That moment right there taught me a lot."

I agree philosophically, but that's probably because I'm congenitally disposed toward simplicity anyway. My mental switchboard gets overloaded too quickly for me to indulge in endless customization.