Virtuoso lifestyle: Gluttony on the high Cs

Virtuoso lifestyle: Gluttony on the high Cs


norman lebrecht

January 03, 2016

Joshua Bell describes his eating habits here.

When I’m on the West Coast, I always head to In-N-Out; it’s like a ritual. It’s the first thing I do. Even before concerts, I have pulled up in a stretch limo to the drive-through. One time I made the limo driver order the burgers while I ran across the street to get McDonald’s fries.

We feel slightly nauseous.

joshua bell food


  • Alvaro says:

    I myself have taken Josh to eat hamburgers in South America. His face showed a gaze of almost childlike satisfaction.

    Let the guy eat what he wants, you can stuff on foie gras and caviar all day – we’ll see who’s healthier in the end…

  • JBBaldwin says:

    I think you mean to say you feel slightly nauseated. If you’re nauseous, you make other people feel ill.

    • Kyle says:

      I was going to post the same comment. Unfortunately, this incorrect usage is so common that it seems to be accepted even by the likes of Merriam-Webster.

      • sdg says:

        It is not incorrect – it is what the word means, because that is what speakers and writers of English use it to mean.

        Nor is this a recent usage – it is recorded in that sense in the early 17th century, though the editors of the Shorter Oxford (3rd edition, 1944) thought it had become obsolete. The editors of the New Oxford (1998) gives “affected with nausea; inclined to vomit” as the first meaning, without qualification.

        Jeremy Butterfrield, in the new Fowler (2015) offers some explanation. There is an issue only in American English, he says, where, since the 1950s, usage commentators have “been busy perpetuating the myth that ‘nauseous’ can only mean “causing nausea” and never “suffering from nausea….” for which, according to this pseudo rule, ‘nauseated’ is the only correct word.” He then refers to statistical evidence of usage from English and American data-bases, and quotes Miriam-Webster’s comments with approval [!].

        • Kyle says:

          Thanks for that, SDG. Very informative. While it may be old-fashioned, I will continue to use “nauseated” as it is unambiguous even without context. I cannot help but to find this usage of “nauseous” to be linguistically lackadaisical, but I concede the point.

    • CDH says:


  • V.Lind says:

    McDonald’s fries taste — and I use the word loosely — of soggy cardboard. I have never eaten anything else there as it all looks so dire. We do not have In’n’Out so I can’t comment, but if their fries are not as “good” as McDonald’s. I have to wonder.

    Nothing surprising about Lima having good Japanese food. It has a discernible Japanese population. It even elected a Japanese-Peruvian President.

  • Chris says:

    As someone who lives in California, I can tell you that In-N-Out burgers are legendary. Joshua Bell has good taste.

    • Josh Williams says:

      As someone else who lives in California, I think In-N-Out is HIGHLY overrated. I really don’t understand why some of my friends like it so much. The burgers are pretty good for fast-food, but that’s all they are. Every burger I’ve gotten from a local restaurant or burger joint in my area has been better cooked and has included far better ingredients than the burgers I’ve eaten from In-N-Out. But each to their own. I’m glad we all don’t like the same things, especially when it comes to music and food.

  • Alexander says:

    There’s nothing nauseating about Joshua Bell’s cuisine of choice. It’s good to see that celebrity and fortune have done nothing to spoil his enjoyment of simple tastes. I am wondering, however, why he arrives at a concert in a stretch limo (and advertises this fact).

    • Max Grimm says:

      Regarding the stretch limo, I’m sure the choice of vehicle has more to do with whatever orchestra or organization he’s performing with respectively for (the Staatskapelle Dresden likes showing interviews of conductors and soloist being driven around Dresden in a +€100.000 VW Phaeton Limousine). Regarding the fact that he “advertises” his luxurious means of transportation, some societies are more accepting of, even hoping for overt displays of wealth or ostentatious behaviour.
      (This is a comment on the concept of flaunting wealth and some deriving enjoyment by witnessing/living vicariously through such displays – ie. celebrity worship – it is not a comment about Mr. Bell or American society)

      • Alexander says:

        That’s interesting to know. I was imagining that he hired his own stretch limo. You are also probably correct that his comments were presumably aimed at an American audience who are perhaps not conditioned to find this sort of thing vulgar, as we tend to in the UK. We are, after all, a country which prides itself on the fact that the Queen heats her audience room at Buckingham Palace with a two-bar electric fire. I bet that here in London most people would be thrilled if the conductor or soloist arrived by bus.

        • MWnyc says:

          Oh, lots and lots of Americans find stretch limos vulgar, too.

          I took it for granted, reading Joshua Bell’s quote, that it was the presenter who sent a stretch limo for him, and that the only reason he mentioned it is because the visual image of a stretch limo going through the drive-through at a California burger joint is amusing.

      • JJC says:

        I can assure you that Josh is a very well-grounded human being. Real, kind, friendly and has a very decent golf game.

        • Max Grimm says:

          Duly noted and that is why I added that my post was “not a comment about Mr. Bell”.
          I am German and in Germany (similar to the UK, judging by Alexander’s post), there is a sort of latent aversion to overt displays of wealth (of course this is a generalization and differing attitudes will be found, as with most everything). By and large however, an affluent/lucky/successful person, “showing off” a large house, luxury car or talking freely about the advantages of their job, wealth or status, will risk a more negative reception of their comments than in some other cultures and countries.
          Alexander wondered why Mr. Bell would talk freely (or “advertise”) the fact that he had a stretch limo and I pointed out that in some cultures, the expectation of adopting a (at times of course false or token) modesty, is not as prevalent in ie. America, as in Germany.

    • CDH says:

      The minority of Orchestras provide guest artists with a vehicle. That it is a stretch limo in Southern California is hardly surprising. No-one is expected t travel in less (even O.J., en route to the airport the night of his wife’s murder, took a limo, not a taxi as most people would. L.A., there you go). And Mr. Bell did mention “before concerts.”

  • Paul Silverthorne says:

    I had the pleasure of lunching with Joshua Bell some years ago. He was performing with the LSO in Bucharest and he joined me and some of my colleagues for lunch in a traditional Romanian restaurant. We ate well with much enjoyable conversation before retiring to the hotel for a rest before the concert.
    When Joshua Bell came on to the platform that evening he was white as a sheet having spent the whole afternoon in hospital with food poisoning. Despite this he gave a superb performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto. Perhaps he should have gone to Macdonalds.

  • Chris says:

    I think everyone is missing the key issue here. Why would anyone favor fries from McDonald’s over those from In-N-Out? The later is far superior.

  • esfir ross says:

    Ride in limousine’s not expensive as in taxi in California but very comfortable and relaxing-personal experience. Took foreign visitors to eat burgers In-n-Out. Result-food poisoning.