When I was younger I had the pleasure (at least in looking back there is some comedic value) of having my father read/edit/revise/direct my writing. It actually began with the letters from summer camp, which I was forced to write bi-weekly. At summer camp, mail was a pleasure, a special treat, a voice from the outside world which was supposed to be comforting and in some cases, uh...educational? My letters from home were Australian in nature in that they had a boomerang effect. I sent them out to my parents, full of my stories from camp, written with an imaginary gun to my head for fear of the consequences if I did not meet my deadlines. When I joyfully received letters from my parents with their tales from home, I also had returned to me the letters that I sent to them. Except that the letters had been altered. They were corrected with red ink. Sentence fragments were pointed out, as were poor word choices and spelling errors. I was sent a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. The idea was that reading it would teach me how to be clear and concise in my own writing. Irony now rears it's head for I just received David Pasternack's The Young Man and the Sea for this summer's reading. While I have not yet delved into the book, I can say I have been eagerly anticipating its release. The ideas behind and concepts of the restaurant Esca are brilliant and if they have only been partially transcribed to a published text I am in for some fun reading.
Back to the story at hand. You now know why the book Old Man and the Sea was sent in my direction.
After camp, I was tutored in writing by my father. This is back in the day before computers, when we hand wrote our reports. His were medical stock based, mine were forgettable junior academia. The memory that stands out is the acronym he wrote on most of my scholarly pieces: KISS. KISS stands for keep it simple stupid. Well, although the intonation may seem a bit harsh, in retrospect, the theory really makes sense.
Keep things simple. Now that is not so simple a task. Actually is it is nearly impossible. Impossible is a tough word. Anything can be possible, you just need to be either ruthless or precise to achieve certain goals. In fact being ruthless and precise at the same time can create a clear path to focused simplicity. In telling an old story, one with both humor and pointed memories, I have illustrated something that has become a foundation of our approach to cooking.
Recently we served a dish, one in which KISS played a role in creating. The dish, which sparked these memories is griddled shrimp with blistered ramps, Meyer lemon puree and our bee pollen-grains of paradise spice blend. It captures the essence of KISS, a theory which at times I have resented and now whole-heartedly embrace.