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Picture of Kalleh
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Grant Achatz, the talented chef and owner of a fabulous Chicago restaurant, has recently been in the news because he has just successfully (we hope) beat Stage IV tongue cancer. After 11 months of fighting for his life, he is back at work and has just received the highest chef honor at the James Beard Awards in New York.

But why is this related to words and language? The name of his restaurant, Alinea, means "a part of a piece of writing, marked by beginning the first sentence on a new line and usually leaving a short space at the beginning of the line." I haven't figured out how that relates to a restaurant. On the other hand, I only found that definition in one online dictionary. Ideas on what the name of the restaurant might mean?
 
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Picture of BobHale
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I'm a little puzzled by how that definition differs from "paragraph".


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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From another thread (link), alinea is an alternate term for pilcrow or paragraph mark: ¶.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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That's what I thought. I just wondered if anyone might know why a restaurant, and a 5-star one at that, would be named Alinea.
 
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I speculated that he named the restaurant Alinea because opening the restaurant was like beginning a new paragraph in his life. I had no idea if this was so. A little searching revealed this Aug 30, 2004 post on the eGullet Society forum.

quote:
  • As I mentioned before the idea to name a restaurant Alinea was born nearly three years ago. During a post-service meeting the group was discussing symbolism, and how we could apply it to signify our cuisine. One of the chefs went home and did some thorough research on the subject, returning the next day with the symbol you see above. I liked it, and after he read me the definition I knew eventually I would use that symbol and name as the identity for my restaurant.
  • Nick:
    "Ok. So when is a logo a symbol... when does it become identity, and what are the limitations of that representation?
    I contend two things... first, that there is a nearly infinite variety of shapes and forms that the Alinea can take and still be recognized by "family resemblance" --- for example, how does a toddler know that an 'a' is an 'a' is an 'A" is an italic a, an a of a different font etc. In fact, one could argue, no two a's are exactly alike and yet they convey the same meaning. So, I would say that we could stretch, manipulate, and otherwise change a traditional Alinea into something that would only be vaguely recognizable but still honor that and have enough family resemblance to be a brother or a distant cousin of that simple traditional Alinea."
  • Grant Achatz
    Chef/Owner
    Alinea

By the way, there is also a Chicago restaurant named Schwa. Here's what one "food geek," Dominic Armato, had to say about Schwa.
quote:
  • Schwa is an unobtrusive little hole in the wall that is home to some very, very great things, and it won't be long before everybody knows it, though plenty of people already do.
  • Schwa isn't even a year old, and already Carlson's been named one of 2006's Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine, following closely in the footsteps of Grant Achatz, under whom he worked for a while at Trio.
  • The joke these days is that we name all of our new restaurants in Chicago after punctuation marks, but there's meaning behind the use of the un-vowel. The schwa, depending on who you ask, represents an unstressed vowel sound, symbolic of Carlson's unstressed approach to fine dining.

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That last link by the "food geek" used the word amuse in a way new to me.
quote:
  • The amuse was a bit of lychee, topped with microplaned walnut and paired with a cool Earl Grey tea that had been touched with a little yuzu and some type of flower, the name of which I missed (though I believe it was supposed to be a common component of Earl Grey).
  • Next, we received an off-the-menu amuse intermezzo of sorts, in the form of a bit of eggplant confit with pickled daikon and dried, candied daikon flakes. As I told my ladylove, this is the amuse that I wish had led off the meal. I've mentioned this before... it's a philosophical issue and a matter of preference, but I'm of the opinion that amuse has to really pop. When you have such a tiny taste that's intended to wake up your palate, I think a potent jolt is far more effective than a subtle warmup. This spoon popped. It was clean, light, potent, amusing and delicious... and then it was gone.

In between these two "amuses" were several courses, some of which I can't even pronounce. But what is an "amuse?"

I started looking and came up with amuse-bouche: "Amuse-bouches are tiny bite-sized morsels served before the hors d'œuvre or first course of a meal." Apparently amuse-bouche has had a transformation. The bouche was dropped in the food geek's article, and the definition was altered. Wikipedia refers to amuse bouche in the first two paragraphs of it's article, but to amuse in the last.

I also came across this definition : "def: \a-'myuz bush\ [Fr. amuse the mouth] 1: a small bite before the meal begins. 2: Greeting of the Chef de cuisine." While reading the article, I came across the words spatcocked[sic] and butterflied.

Reading further I came across this: "Poussins are usually roasted, spatchcocked poussins can also be grilled." Now, Poussin was a French painter. Why would you want to roast him?

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Yes, I am familiar with amuse bouches. Perhaps that's the relationship. Or maybe it is from your link from eGullet. I should just email him and ask! Thanks, Tinman. As usual, you went way above and beyond. I appreciate it.
 
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