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La Vie

People don’t talk anymore. We text. We email. We double-tap to like. We make Facebook a transitive verb.

What a pleasure, then, to sink into the passenger side of this all-black Mercedes SUV and have a conversation with Thomas Bühner. This is not, I should point out, an interview. He’s the chef of Michelin three-starred La Vie and I’m just some guy he has invited to eat there. He’s fifty years old and I’m not yet thirty. He drives.

I pretend I’m just excited and grateful to be here, but I shift about in my seat, anxiously. My legs stop shaking but my teeth start chattering when I open the door. We’ve arrived at the kitchen garden in Bad Essen, today a 4,000 m² grid of snow, ice and twigs. This is nature’s graveyard shift — winter in the upper latitudes of Germany. Continue reading

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In De Wulf

There’s no such thing as trying to eat. One eats or one doesn’t. And half-hearted promises are as loathsome as air kisses and limp handshakes. So when I told a guy named Kobe that I would come to a town called Dranouter, I meant it. Now I’m In De Wulf.

This place is in de middle of nowhere, so we’ll stay the night in the guest rooms upstairs. But this afternoon, ambassadors from France, Spain, China and the US convene in the lounge — a UN of restaurant junkies. Friends old and new have just eaten lunch, while my buddy Jose and I await dinner. 3,600 miles from my house, I am at home. Continue reading

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De Librije

Consider this a postcard from a town whose name I can’t pronounce. Fifty shades of grey is the weather here, not just an idea book for days like this. And I’ve translated so many words on my phone that I risk exceeding my roaming data plan on the vowels alone.

Welkom in Nederland. I’m in Zwolle.

I arrived yesterday ’round midnight, the only one who got off the train at this station. The only one walking these cold, foggy streets at that hour. Now it’s lunch time and I’m biting my tongue because I want to make a joke about purple drank, but nobody in this country thinks I am funny. So I’ll just sip this fermented cabbage juice in silence. It’s the first serving at a restaurant called De Librije. Continue reading

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