In Berkeley, where I currently live, ‘‘Alice’’ is a one-name celebrity, like Madonna. This is completely justifiable. In her lifetime, there has probably been no more important American in food than Alice Waters.
It was a matter of timing, of course — Alice is not a superwoman. She is, however, a dreamer and an uncompromising visionary. Some 40 years ago, when she settled in Berkeley — she had graduated from the university and then spent many summers in France — she had already recognized that good cooking was not about fancy French ingredients or techniques, but about taking the best local food you could find and not messing it up.