Monday, August 11, 2008

Into Thin Air and Back Again

I recently read a story about a man from Switzerland who was circumnavigating the globe in search of the most exquisite dishes prepared in all of the world’s top rated restaurants. After having dined in 40 of the 68 restaurants, Mr. Henry simply vanished.
His disappearance set off an international firestorm. Newspapers and television stations from countries such as New Zealand, Uruguay, Argentina, the United States, Romania, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, and Switzerland all ran stories publicizing the enigma surrounding his disappearance as well as his reasons for having undertaken such a curiously single-minded crusade.

What makes this story most fascinating to me centers around the discipline and determination he exhibited in not only saving the money demanded by this transcontinental pilgrimage but also the careful research and planning necessary to see it through. Mr. Henry is by no means a wealthy man. The $60,000 he raised for his trip was done at considerable sacrifice. He works as a motorbike courier. His very modest and working class background makes his vision even more compelling. Mr. Henry’s love and appreciation for very fine food and the sacrifice necessary to obtain it speak to a purity and earnestness bordering on that which is deeply spiritual, even religious. This quality is made even more sublime by Mr. Henry’s recent resurfacing after two months. His only surviving relative is quoted as saying that all of the publicity garnered by his quest must have been highly irritating to him and that he imagined that his nephew likely preferred that the world forget about him and simply leave him to his culinary pursuits.

The Austin Public Library has an assortment of tasty guides so that you too might sample some of the best dishes the world has to offer. I've listed two below just to whet your appetite.


The last supper: mystery of the Swiss motorbike courier

The Michelin Man turns up - but a tasty riddle remains


Main cities of Europe. 2008 : hotels & restaurants

New York City : selection of restaurants and hotels

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