Peter Miller Books,
Peter Miller Books,
Peter Miller's book, 'Lunch at the Shop,' was one of my inspirations for this blog. He is a family friend of another Staff Meals interviewee, Casey Kelbaugh, who connected the two of us. On a recent trip to Seattle, I was invited to join Peter for lunch at his shop. That is, as long as I brought his favorite cookies: peanut and pine, and chocolate chip and sea salt.
LUNCH, A FORGOTTEN PLEASURE
It's a design and architecture bookstore, one of the last of its kind. I've been here in the new space for the past 4 months. In the old place, we used to do lunch for 3 to 4 people a day, but now it's just me. I really feel a lot of people dread lunch. They don't have enough time to make a break, or they don't want to sit by themselves staring at a screen. At least in the old days you could smoke, but not anymore! It’s a very sweet thing to have lunch. Most of us have given up the ritual except when you're on vacation, but if you can somehow make it work, you should.
Our lunches began when I saw the staff buying hideous meals, and I thought to myself, we can do so much better than that together! There has been a near disappearance of the oral history of how to make food. But, everyone who worked for me still talks about the lunches we created and what they learnt. It gave them a clear sense of knowing about the parts of a dish and what each element was able to add. If you have a lemon, good olive oil, nice salt and pepper, you're already nearly there! Then, all you need are some good products to go with that, and bang! The best part is that when we sit at the table, to the staff I am just a guy, not their asshole boss.
At 7.30am I pass through the market and pick up some food. You don't need much—it’s a mix of just some ends. America isn't good at tomatoes, but they have revived an heirloom tomato, which, in the middle of summer, is good for this kind of meal. Today my guy said there was no avocado, so I said “find me just one,” so he went away and did! Friday is also the day I have dessert and clear out the fridge before the weekend. Eating like this saves you money, and it's healthy and delicious.
DREAMS OF A BIG LUNCH
I would love to do a big lunch at the shop once a week—no reservations, no menu. Just come in, get food, and eat with 10 strangers. $15-20, whatever. I'd love it! And, no phones! I want to be able to offer something meaningful to people around me. I don't want them to come as a group—I want 10 individuals who come and talk and eat and go back to work.