Amid the “Marriage, Meat, and Obsession,” a Visit to Blue Hill


Julie Powell’s forthcoming book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, may be preoccupied mainly with the the finer nuances of animal parts and adultery, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain one or two morsels for the New York restaurant-fixated to chew on. Though Powell takes care to disguise the identity of her lover, known only as “D.,” she’s not quite as thorough in her depiction of an unnamed restaurant she visits with Jessica Applestone, one of the owners of Fleisher’s, the butcher shop where Powell apprenticed.

At the restaurant, located near Tarrytown in a “rambling stone building” up a gravel drive, Powell meets none other than “Dan.” He’s “a thin man, with full lips, a high forehead, and a long nose. Large, dark eyes…He holds out a hand with long, thin fingers, meeting her eyes in that way that particular people do…”

Later, Powell watches Dan talk to Jessica, remarking, “I know his style, recognize it all too intimately — the eye contact, unwavering then broken, the fingers playing along the edges of objects on his desk, the low chuckle that’s just amused enough.”

This certainly isn’t the first time Dan Barber has been written about in tones of hushed awe, but it may be the first time he’s been publicly compared to someone’s adulterous lover: not only are there the aforementioned mannerisms, but Barber even looks a little like “D.,” a thin man possessed of similarly plush “Mick Jagger lips.” And, like “D.,” he provides Powell with a bit of carnal release:

“Have you ever had a food-related orgasm?…Upon letting the pig-heart bonbons melt on our tongues, Jessica and I achieve simultaneous ones…I growl and beat my open palms on the table top. Our eyes meet and it’s magic.”

And somewhere, angels weep. Or maybe that’s just the sound of Julia Child, shedding a little tear.