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May '20: How A Dinner in Beverly Hills Taught Me About Jail
Excerpt: The Dinners
“We’d met casually a few times at art events, Mister J. & I. Connections frequently happen that way, not entirely dissimilar to Goodfellas. I’ll be told, “You need to meet this person. He’s a friend.” Or: “He’s a homie.” And the tone will convey an added layer of importance. A reminder, almost. To be on one’s toes. Especially if it is an OG (Original Gangster, connoting years of experience & worldliness).
The first real sit-down I ever had with J. was at his request. He’d heard I loved food & had lived in England & Australia, & done home-stays in Japan. (He also knew that when I was 17, my nose was torn out of my face & I required 2 facial reconstructions to put it right; as a result, I lost the ability to smell & taste for about a year. Ever since I regained those senses, food has been a massive part of my life.)
We met at José Andrés’s restaurant, Bazaar, in Beverly Hills. (It was my first time at an Andrés restaurant, & I look forward to going again when restrictions lift; Chef Andrés is doing such great work helping people these days.) This was J.’s call. In my experience, few people love food as much as former gangsters do. Whether growing up with limited means, or having access to good food denied for a period of time (such as during incarceration), they almost unanimously scour markets for the best produce & meat, cook fantastically at home, & seek out fine restaurants all over the city for special dishes. Bazaar was one such place…”