Thomas Keller of The French Laundry and the immaturity of palate fatigue

Chefs, such as Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, talk about something they call palate fatigue. The theory is, after just a few bites, say two or three, you no longer taste what you are eating.

So, to combat this, what Keller and other chefs who follow this thinking do is serve a series of small dishes, containing no more than a few bites each.

And I say this is incredibly immature.

Let me liken food to love.

Food is love
Let's say you meet a new person. You are interested. You are cautious. You are bold enough to try a conversation and totally exhilarated that he or she is wonderful.

Time goes on and you keep dating. Now you have built up trust that each encounter will be wonderful. And, not only is this true (well, mostly!), but you have time to savor the amazing complexity of the other person.

And you gain the soul-deep satisfaction that can only come from this long-term connection.

Love is food
Now let's say you meet a new dish (of food, m'dear!). You are interested. You are cautious. You are bold enough to try a bite and totally exhilarated that it is delicious.

Time goes on and you keep eating. Now you have built up trust that each bite will be wonderful. And, not only is this true, but you have time to experience the amazing complexity of flavor of your food.

And you gain the soul-deep satisfaction that can only come with truly savoring a full serving.

Palate fatigue
In other words, Keller's style of restaurant is immature, focusing on the discovery of the new, while a restaurant serving a full plate of amazing food is mature, focusing on building a long-term relationship with depth of flavor.

And I know this is true
The other week, my husband and I went to a very nice Chinese restaurant for Dim Sum. And with each new dish, we said "Oh, hey, this is great" or "Oh, yeah, I'm not so fond." But we kept returning to our discussion.

A few nights ago, we went out for French food. We spent pretty much the entire meal talking about what we were eating. We talked about what the spices were ("What IS that wonderful smokey taste?") we talked about the wine ("Oh, this is rich, don't you think?") we talked about which dish was better ("Yeah, well I like mine better, too!") and we reminisced about past meals that were just as wonderful.

I prefer marriage to dating
Preferring the thrill of dating over the complexity of marriage is immature. But, then, I like to savor.