(Once Michael Mina decided to open in Yugoslavia, the local populace was all in.)
ELV note: We ran this feature a couple of years ago, and periodically update it so we can share these pearls of wisdom with others who follow our swinish ways:
WHAT I’VE LEARNED – 2014
Restaurant cooking is assembly line cooking. Think of it this way and it is harder to romanticize it the way most amateurs do.
I believe in the four major food groups: French, Italian, Chinese and barbecue.
The older a man gets, the more he becomes like a woman. And vice versa.
French chefs are just better than American ones. American cooks don’t like to admit this, but in their hearts they know it’s true.
You’re born alone and you die alone; it’s what you do in between with others that counts.
I’m an agnostic/atheist, but if I had to choose a religion, I’d be a Jew.
Jews can be insufferable, though.
As can Greeks.
Lawyers are better at their craft at 60 than they were at 50, and at 50 than they were at 40. Same with restaurant critics.
Never make the mistake of thinking a chef has a great palate, especially when they move out of their own oeuvre. (Alain Ducasse once told me he thought Cheesecake Factory made an excellent Caesar salad. ‘Nuff said.)
Restaurant people are like gypsies.
You are no better or worse than anyone else. Neither are you as good or bad as you think you are. These are the most important lessons my parents taught me.
Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent – Marlon Brando
I never use sunscreen. I’m 50% Greek. I don’t need no stinkin’ sunscreen.
The older you get, the dumber sports become, unless you’re playing them.
Fame is a drug.
Our nation’s obsession with actors and exhibitionists is its biggest flaw.
Next to its slavish devotion to whomever is singing some stupid song.
And its education system.
Until our society starts to ridicule gun owners for their psycho-sexual fetishization of firearms, there will be no gun control.
All religions start with the cry “Help!”
Golf and sex are the only two things in life you can be terrible at and still enjoy. – Jimmy Demaret
Never bet on anything that eats.
Golf courses are man’s only improvement on nature.
People with no vices have very few virtues. – Abraham Lincoln
All politicians are attention junkies.
Black people will laugh at anything.
I’ve never met a politician I genuinely liked because precious few of them are genuinely nice people.
Quality is diametrically opposed to quantity. – Lionel Poilâne
A man in a hurry should slow down.
Life is a constant struggle between our good sense and our inherent selfishness and stupidity.
Fidelity in men is a matter of options.
Most men are biologically incapable of fidelity to one woman. The good news is they eventually outgrow this.
Even promiscuous women are looking for love. Not so, men.
Hence, we will never understand each other.
Latins are the friendliest people on earth…and the most bat-shit crazy lovers.
Most professional athletes are assholes pretending to be nice guys.
Men are sports fans because it’s the first thing in life they ever fail at.
All junkies are the same.
The two most destructive drugs are alcohol and nicotine.
Cocaine and methamphetamine are the two drugs that cause people to do the most unspeakable things. Speaking academically, of course.
I love wine, but the older I get, the more the alcohol just gets in the way.
Drugs are great because they make you feel better RIGHT NOW.
Most stereotypes are true.
Confucius say: Bad settlement better than good lawsuit. – Charlie Chan
Men are better chefs and comedians than women. They also sing better.
The French are the best wine makers in the world, but sometimes Italian wine just tastes better.
California wines bore me.
Anything exquisite is usually disgusting the first time you try it (e.g. Roquefort cheese, oysters, oral sex…).
Everyone and everything looked like hell in the 1970s.
The 70s were a kidney stone of a decade.
Intensifying one’s orgasm can sometimes lead to very complicated situations.
Outside of their professions, lawyers and doctors can be remarkably unsophisticated creatures.
Bad parents can make good children, but the opposite is rarely true.
The saying “all men are created equal” is a crock of shit. If it was true, our education system wouldn’t be the crock of shit that it is.
If you want to see what a child will be like when they grow up, look at their parents.
If you have to lie, be brief.
The Jews get most things right…except their cooking.
The runaway nun always speaks ill of her convent.
Semites are smart, hard-headed, opinionated, difficult people. If they were less proud of these traits, the world (and especially the Middle East) would be a better place.
Comparison is the root of all unhappiness. – Cicero
Never eat at a place called Mom’s, play cards with a man named Doc, or sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own. – Nelson Algren
The only time I enjoy myself as a lawyer is when I’m in a courtroom.
There are two important things in politics: money…and I forgot what the other one was.
It is fascinating to watch anything being made.
When tradition is compromised, variety proliferates.
Barbecue is like sex, the worst I ever had was still pretty good. It is the only food I can say that about.
Politics is a dirty little game played by marginal intellects scraping for Pyrrhic victories.
Always judge a person by how they treat someone who can’t do anything for them.
Always judge a woman on a first date by how she treats the staff in a restaurant.
Sex is better on drugs…except when it isn’t.
Acting is an emasculating way to make a living.
Women taste like oysters…and white truffles…yet get inexplicably upset when you insist on sipping Chablis whilst chowing down.
Straight men are boring.
Gay men are much more fun to talk to.
I’ve never met a gay lesbian…and that’s a pity.
All men are better at 50 than they were at 30.
Space freaks the fuck out of me.
Get over yourself.
The eagle doesn’t hunt flies.
Everyone wants to be noticed.
Beautiful women are lousy lays.
I’ve never had sex with a man, but I imagine it’s the same.
Who wants to be a leg man? I have a pair of legs.
Everyone has an ego that needs to be stroked occasionally.
If there’s two things I hate it’s racists and the Dutch.
Get a reputation as an early riser, and you can sleep til noon for the rest of your days.
People love to believe what they can’t see. – Mark Twain.
Country music contains no metaphors — which is why it’s so idiotic.
Rock and roll may be bad poetry, but at least it’s poetry.
Anyone can string words together and call it “poetry” and some schmuck will be astonished by it.
Anything too stupid to be spoken is sung. – Voltaire
Yiddish is the most expressive language of all.
There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money either. – Robert Hughes
No one over the age of eleven should make a big deal about their birthday. – Dave Barry
Black people sing better than white people.
They also dance better.
And make better cornerbacks.
Both of my sons are smarter, better men than me. That’s about all a father can hope for.
I wish I had played more golf with my dad.
Sometimes, you break your own heart.
It’s not the size of the ship it’s the motion of the ocean.
All music is about emotion.
All movies are about nothing but manipulating emotion.
If I had to do it all over again, I’d advise myself to tough out the tough times, and not seek greener pastures (and more sex with different partners) at the drop of a hat.
At age forty, I was mentally, intellectually, emotionally and physiologically incapable of following the above advice.
At fifty, it made perfect sense to me.
As a writer, if you aren’t embarrassed by what you wrote a few years ago, you aren’t trying very hard.
I have this theory that 75% of men are pigs and 25% of women are sluts. That means on any given night, both sides are plenty busy.
A critic’s job is to educate, not pander to the lowest common denominator.
Money is just like sex. If you don’t have it, you can’t think of anything else. If you do, it frees you up to think about other things. – James Baldwin
Strippers and pornography only make sense if you’re in a highly intoxicated. Sober, they’re pretty pathetic.
The law is a racket.
Golf is like a love affair. If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun; if you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart. – Arthur Daley
What you think about when you masturbate is probably as kinky as you’re ever going to get. (I learned this the hard way.)
Simple food may be best, but French food is what I dream about.
Death: the final frontier.
My mother has always been my best friend. I’m glad one of my parents was.
A man cannot be too serious about what he eats. – Confucius
If you have an appetite for life, stay hungry.