site AX8863, alias ‘Fry House’

In the year 3021 AD, a group of scientists excavated ruins on the planet formerly known as Earth. After months of hard work digging through a millennium of stiff rock formations and compacted soil , they make a unique discovery. Here is an excerpt from the archaeological report on what appears to be a particularly important site for the ancient inhabitants of the region.

On day 115 of our excavation of the site known in the late 20th century as Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto – now known by its original nickname Chochenyo, Northern xučyun – we unearthed a fairly intact structure buried under many layers of rock. sedimentary and volcanic rhyolite. . Inside the 1,050-year-old structure, traces of smoke lacquered over what appears to be a large brick-lined fireplace, mixed with particles of rosemary and charred animal fat, indicate that the site was a place for drinks. and hot food was served. In the 20th century, it was a restaurant.

A focus on the site

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

The head of the Earth Archaeological Association, Ruth Okorie, informed the team that the site is remarkable for its wealth of artefacts, kept in an airtight cave for centuries. Considering the numerous fires and earthquakes as well as volcanic activity that occurred in this region throughout the pre-interstellar era of the 24th century, this level of preservation is exceptional. Many functional objects, as well as some that seem more ceremonial, have already been cataloged and sent to our historians for analysis.

While most redwood buildings have long since decayed, one room, one curved panel, reads, in archaic French, “CHEZ: PANISSE”. “Chez” means “house” or “house” in French; “panisse” can be a reference to an ancient dish of fried chickpea flour. Internally, staff call the site “Fry House”.

At: Panisse, or "Frying house"

At: Panisse, or “Fry House”

Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

The following is a catalog of the most remarkable objects discovered so far.

Preserved behind a glass, various works of art represent people of various ages, looking at boats or looking askance. An image of a simple boat, its white sail prominently visible, would have spoken of the restaurant’s access to fresh fish. More abstract than the more literal images of food we’ve found on other sites, these works were clearly valued for their artistic aspects as well as their advertising function. This theory is supported by the clusters of mussel shells and fragments of fishbones found under the floors.

A utensil surely used by a person in a sacred position

A utensil surely used by a person in a sacred position

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

In fact, the tools discovered here indicate that a wide variety of proteins have been served to the public. A curious example is a metal utensil with a long, thin neck and a shallow circular spoon at the end. The dark underside of the spoon may be the result of direct cooking over a fire – a primitive technique that has nonetheless persisted through the ages as a way to smoke foods while cooking. The function of the utensil intrigued our excavators: it was too small and inefficient for most foods and too large to drink. However, DNA analysis showed it was used for eggs – rather, an egg. It could be that one person’s job was to watch over this task: a prudent and sacred position that must have been much coveted at the time.

The hammered copper bowl

The hammered copper bowl

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

An object with a clearer religious purpose is a hammered copper bowl. Similar in shape to objects intended for display such as goblets and trophies, the bowl must have been designed for its sense of ceremony. The shape of this ship echoes a much larger object found at the site, probably also used as an exhibition plinth. There are many examples of the mixture of food and religiosity in the history of this planet: Chef Okorie’s recent discovery of masses of halal food carts in old New York City is proof of this. It may have held sanctified wine, sipped and passed around the table in turn, or even fries. Gennady Mendelsson, the site’s caterer, offered the possibility that it could have been used to present particularly prized tracks to guests of honor.

Neutral colored bowls from AX8863 website

Neutral colored bowls from the AX8863 website

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

Other finds include a braided attic, metal ladles in several sizes, and an incredible number of French wines. Many stacks of functional ceramics, of a sober and monotonous design that was popular at the time, are so well preserved that they could easily be dusted off and used at home. Some have already disappeared; we suspect that a search of our trainees’ closets may shed light on this mystery.

A well-preserved physical text of the site

A well-preserved physical text of the site

Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

The biggest surprise of the dig was a well-preserved physical text: the “Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook” written by Alice Waters, who is now known to be the owner of the restaurant. Made of paper, its pages are fragile and almost entirely worn by time. A closer look can reveal more about the nature of this restaurant – and perhaps some great recipes.

Soleil Ho is the food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @hooleil



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