It’s gratifying to learn that some writers have used The United States of Arugula as a launching point for their own investigations. Last fall, both a reporter for The New York Sun and the author of a blog called Lost City (devoted to the vestigial bits of old New York that survive even in the current Carrie Bradshaw gleamopolis) were motivated to check out Le Veau d’Or, the unreconstructed ’50s-style French restaurant on East 60th Street that still serves Escoffier-style cuisine–and whose aged proprietor, Robert Tréboux, may be the last still-working restaurant professional who served under the autocratic Henri Soulé, who famously ran Le Pavillon until his death in 1966. (Both writers spell my name wrong, but hey, at least they have passion.)
More recently, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tracked down another old-timer who plays a small but important role in my book: the neighbor of Judy Rodgers’s who traveled to France a lot on business in the 1970s, becoming friends with the Troisgros family and setting in motion the chain of events that led to Rodgers, now of Zuni Café in San Francisco (one of my favorite restaurants), becoming a chef. I never named this neighbor in my book, but he’s a retired chemical engineer for Monsanto named Frank Riordan Jr., and he’s still going at 88, baking his own baguettes. It was Riordan who facilitated Rodgers’s first trip to France as a teen, in which she stayed with the great Roanne chef-restaurateur Jean Troisgros, had her palate awakened, and thereafter plunged headlong into hardcore foodie-ism. Anyone who’s ever enjoyed a meal at Zuni owes Mr. Riordan a debt of thanks.