Thursday, June 18, 2009

Darrell Tasting

Darrell smells, listens, contemplates, tastes, listens, contemplates.
June 18th, 2009. Blog by Esther Ritter
"Travels with Darrell"
There's a reason very few people have followed Darrell on an international culinary trek: it's hard to keep up with him!
At age 67, Darrell is considered one of the foremost experts on wine, olive oil and all that is the culinary. But don't let his professional outfit fool you (signature slacks, tie, sweater and suspenders). Although he may look like the culinary Mr. Rogers, Darrell has deep passion and legendary passion on the road.
After a grueling overnight flight to Santiago, Chile, Darrell immediately hit the Santiago central Mercado (market). Exotic sea foods, little known vegetables, Darrell was a gracious teacher and host to a camera to which he was initially coy.
As a photojournalist who has worked in the food/garden/how-to genre for a few decades, I found Darrell to be a generous and an exciting subject. The minute I turned the camera on him, he delivered content gold.
But it wasn't just me who felt that way around Darrell. He was invited to Chile as a guest of CORFO, the Chilean Economic Development Agency, to observe and speak to wine makers, olive oil producers and fruit growers. Regardless of his audience (big producers, small producers, well know or up and coming) when Darrell speaks, people listen. A fluent Spanish speaker, he literally enraptured the attention of the people who gathered around him. He intertwines his opinion of food and wine with history, philosophy and economics.
But Darrell doesn't just speak...he listens. Intently. That's how he learns (and spending hours in at the local bookstores or library). He hangs around until the last person has had a chance to speak with him. He's a true statesman; someone who is honest, intelligent and kind. Darrell is truly a generous man.
I felt honored to tag along side Darrell. He spent countless hours in the van listening to (and laughing at) our vulgar jokes, strange references to underpants and keeping accurate count of our obsessive drive to drink 100 Pisco Sours. He even pulled out his white handkerchief to give me a white balance for my camera. I found Darrell to be a truly fun and interesting travel companion.
My last question to Darrell is...where next?

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