Bessou has a woman chef and a woman owner, and we think about these kinds of things. We don’t obsess over them, but we think about them, just like we don’t obsess over how chefs staff their lines but peek into kitchens whenever we can to see if there are any women.
We’re at Bessou to meet my book club, and they’re the people I’m most excited to introduce you to. They’re good people, funny and smart and kind, and I miss them and their company constantly in LA. They take to you immediately, hound you with questions, even highly personal ones, but they’re all good-natured and sweet and protective, and it makes me want to cry. I’ve struggled with acute loneliness most of my life, and this having people in my life who are there because they want to be, because they care, is still shiny and new.
The food at Bessou is simple, clean Japanese food, and I love it. If I were to be harshly critical about it, I’d say that, maybe, Bessou isn’t anything uniquely special, isn’t reinventing any of the dishes on its menu, but the chef serves delicious, quality food for reasonable prices with great service, and, frankly, I don’t see why that should be seen as less than or devalued in any way. I appreciate places that do classic, simple food well— the simpler anything is, the more difficult it is to do well — and I eat everything in my Japanese breakfast set, eat my side of milk toast, drink my tea. They like you, this book club of mine, and I think you like them, and I listen and watch and laugh as they poke at you, get you all flustered and cute as you try to make a good impression.
We walk to Morgenstern’s after for ice cream, and it’s a beautiful late summer, almost fall day in New York. The sun is out; there’s no humidity in the air; and there’s a breeze pleasantly wafting around. There amazingly isn’t a line when we get to Morgenstern’s, so we sample leisurely and pick our cones, take two seats and stand in a small circle in the corner, chatting and laughing until our cones are gone, and the tiny space is suddenly crowded, and the queue is extending outside.
I guess maybe we should go, someone says. Yeah, we all agree, throwing away our trash and filing out, only to reconvene on the sidewalk and pick up the threads of conversation — and I think, it’s afternoons like these with company like this that make life shine.