The shape of stories and the re-invention of dinner


Authors know a secret. It was first written in Ecclesiastes so long. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Fig Leaf, an updated version of a Manhattan from RDG, Houston, TX

Fig Leaf, an updated version of a Manhattan from RDG, Houston, TX

The plots. The characters. The scenery. All in some composition or another. The true invention of the artist is in the selection of what to include and what not to include.

And the really crafty ones know how to bend history to their favor. Even when the plot line remains unaltered.

RDG cocktail menu (portion)

RDG cocktail menu (portion)

Same can be said of master mixologists. They deploy flavor synonyms to spark to life classic combinations.

Take the cocktail known as Fig Leaf from Houston’s own RDG. Essentially the drink is a Manhattan remake. Rye Whiskey replaces standard bourbon. And Mission Fig Syrup and schnapps from Obstler play the role of the maraschino.

We see similar modernization when Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman play Holmes and Watson. Goodbye to Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Whip In - the Woodland Panaanini

Whip In – the Woodland Panaanini

Whip In steals the name of it’s grilled sandwich, the panaanini, from Italy, but laces it with Texas stylings and Indian flare. Vibrant chutney and feta cheese light up the dish of pulled pork. Fenugreek zaps the cole slaw into a new dimension.

This is really a Texas BBQ sandwich with flatbread. Yet in their hands, the flavor image becomes both familiar and strange.

Sourdough tacos from Boudin Bistro

Sourdough tacos from Boudin Bistro

The good people at bread heaven, Boudin try their hand at unleavened dough. Who else but the iconic sourdough masters of San Francisco can translate their tang into tacos? The tortilla even carries the classic toothy pull of the bread.

Into the freshly grilled tortillas goes chicken or fish. Topped with seasoned mayo the color of coral cream. Cilantro reminds you that this is a dish of Baja Mexico. But in this melting pot, new Euro-American influences prevail.

These are only culinary examples of what of storytellers practice daily. To translate the narrative of human existence into terms that the local audience understands.

Some might see this as a betrayal to authenticity.

The other way to see it is to understand that dialect matters. That personalization matters. And that the gift of each artist is to add their own twist.

One more stone on top of the cairn.

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