Every once in a while, a great restaurant visit ends with a with a dish stuck in your mind and you feel like you absolutely must have it again. For me, this dish was Whipped Lardo. You savor it, over and over, in your mind, craving the subtle nuances or powerful flavors that someone else prepared for you. In my case, the rich fatty feeling combined with the lightness of air in my mouth and the taste of butter with subtle meat undertones. If you are a culinary adventurer, like myself, you may even try to re-make it yourself. Over. and Over. Yet, there is always that piece missing, that little bit of whatever that is missing from your version. It keeps you going back to the restaurant, keeps you ordering more.
What is it about a great dish that keeps your mind on it, analyzing, breaking it down, attempting to learn what could possibly be inside of it? Your body, desiring flavors it can’t even identify, calls you back for more. In the history of eating, people have tried to cultivate that desire to bring more money to restaurants, whether through a heavy hand with the MSG, a popular method in Ecuador and Peru, or through other means–restaurants in Sichuan Province of China have been accused of adding opium to their hot pots in order to induce the craving for the dish.
Underhanded tricks aside, it is truly great culinary craft that is the creator of the most mind-haunting dishes. It is the loving touches and gentle hands of an experienced and experimenting chef that give us new flavor combinations while activating long dormant memories in the brain that make us want to go back and have another helping.