Miscellany & Poetry - On food, wine, film, lit & then some.

Noma Trauma

Really, am I the only one appalled & depressed by the menu of the just-named “world’s best restaurant,” Noma in Copenhagen? Featured ingredients: “seawater,” “milk skin,” “whey,” “biodynamic cereals,” “vintage potato” (!) & “bleak roe” (!!) Hey, I’ll eat anything, but it has to be actual food.

Denveater’s 4 Basic Food Groups

  • Cold leftovers
  • The stuff that’s stuck to the pan
  • Condiments
  • Wine


Once & Future Food Fads: My Top 10 Fantasy Comebacks (or, In Rare Defense of Trends)

Funny—the word fad itself feels passé, largely replaced these days by trend. But whatever word we use, let’s face it—we treat its referents like teen virgins. Much as we wanna spot ’em 1st, we’re as quick to discard ’em—leering, then jeering. We’re the Mike Damones of Next Big Things.

Yet the objects of our lovin’ & leavin’ exist for a reason. Something hits a collective nerve that needed hitting—the show-stealing graffiti on the side of the established gallery; the liberal-conservative pendulum—or, in the case of food, tingles a collective tastebud that has gone unstimulated for too long, and we react with a greedy start. So fluorescent Space Age Jello replaced wartime ration recipes; so comfort food followed on the heels of nouvelle cuisine; so giant muffins have morphed into pretty petite cupcakes; so the faceless cooks in taco trucks are the superheroes of the moment, blam-biff-powing the celebrity chefs whose very spittle we were hanging on last week.

Of course, the riddance tends to be stronger, last longer, than the welcome. It’s not just that, as fools stumble in where visionaries broke ground, making imitation from inspiration, they lessen the value of the original marvel (that bacon-flavored chocolate bar we went so gaga for 3 years ago sure looks sinister in the light of the bacon monster it created). It’s also that it’s our social imperative to repudiate what our human nature embraces—for just as base physiological instinct ensures we seek out what we crave, mental cultivation bids us interrogate those instincts. Intellectual critique does, in short, trump emotional yearning at the societal, “civilized,” level; the Everlasting No requires greater sophistication than The Everlasting Yes. But entertaining both simultaneously is true enlightenment (jusk ask that awesome nutball Blake)—the position whence we can see both where we’ve come from & where we’re going most clearly.

On that note, for all the bashing of bacon & St. Germain, beet salads & cupcakes I’ve been doing for awhile now, it occurs to me to shed a tear for some bygone trends I relished back in the day (mostly the 1980s, when I came of age)—& to perk up at the thought that they’re overdue for a comeback.

My Top 10 Fantasy Comebacks (in no particular order)

Tableside Caesars (ditto tableside guacamole, bananas Foster, etc.)
The occasional supper club still pulls out all the stops, but the art of the cart is largely lost. I’m reminded of Boston restaurateur Christopher Myers’ lament that dining, as opposed to merely eating, is a goner—& the tableside Caesar (b. 1924), by extension, is a remnant of the days when tie-&-vest servers were pros & showmen, & going out to dinner was something special, a romantic spectacle of cocktail dresses & Manhattans, big bands & coat check girls.

OCaesar as close as it gets at Oceanaire

Swedish meatballs

Brought to the US by the Swedish immigrants who settled in the Midwest in the 19th century, they made their mark at mid-20th century dinner parties only to be summarily dismissed in the nouvelle era of leek-poached salmon & raspberry coulis. In the postironic millennium of small comforts, köttbullar in creamy brown gravy are ripe for a roaring return, am I right?

Spanish meatballs—only 3 letters off, anyway—at Spain Restaurant

Bread bowls (for soup or dip; ditto giant tortilla shells for taco salads)
No, these don’t count. I’m talking about the sourdough boules that, in the 1980s, served as containers for everything from French onion soup to spinach dip. Edible tableware is a wonderfully tacky idea whose time should never pass: how about cracker spoons & fruit-leather linens while we’re at it?

News-graphics-2008-_437589aphoto of Butt Foods’ tikka masala in naan bowl, story by Harry Wallop—can’t make these names up (UK Telegraph)

Salad bars
Time was when every other American restaurant bid you start your meal at a self-service station lined with everything from bacon bits & breadsticks to 3-bean salad & sliced eggs to 10 kinds of dressing, packages of saltines, oyster crackers & breadsticks, & chocolate mousse for round 2 (or 3, or 4), along with the requisite raw veggies. Done right, the way they did & still do at Legend’s in my hometown of Norman, OK (oh, those marinated beets!), a salad bar’s a DIY, grab-bag thrill—one that all those chefs who can’t think beyond tokens like dried cranberries & warm goat cheese might do well to reinstate.

Pasta salad
Sure, as it degraded into storebought kits & combos of elbow mac, mayo, frozen peas & shredded Kraft cheddar, the ’80s sensation grew wearisome. But a good, creative chilled pasta salad—like Bon Appetit’s orzo, fennel & green bean version with dill pesto, which I can vouch for—is a summer wonder.

from Epicurious; recipe linked above

Potato skins
Sports bars still whip ’em out, while the occasional mod cocktail lounge brings ’em back for a dressed-up encore. But I miss the days when 3 or 4 kinds were ubiquitous—bacon & cheddar. Broccoli & cheddar. Sausage & mozzarella. Chili, salsa & sour cream. Etc., etc. Really, there’s almost nothing you can’t stuff inside the glistening roasted shell of a spud that wouldn’t taste all the better for it—from artichoke dip & classic pesto to clam chowder & scrambled eggs. (Kudos to Oak Tavern for recognizing as much & reviving the related trend of whole stuffed potatoes.)

Deliteskins2 Delite’s skins with smoked salmon, pickled red onion, roe

Charlie Brown’s Italian skins

Fried mushrooms (& zucchini, etc.)
Another ’80s gem that lost its luster as more & more bandwagon-laggers tossed out frozen product with bottled ranch dressing, leaving the original stuck the mud in of their wake. But the memory of biting into crispy-crunchy shells of golden-brown breading until the warm juice squirted out & the mushroom slid white-hot into my mouth remains vivid.

BBbottlecaps2 The right idea: fried jalapeno slices at Blackbird Buvette

Green Goddess dressing
The tangy mix of herbs, anchovies, & sour cream/mayo/buttermilk has made valiant stabs at a comeback in recent years, but it hasn’t pierced the cultural fabric the way it did when it was invented at San Francisco’s Palm Court Restaurant in the 1920s & again in the 1970s, when Seven Seas lined the supermarket shelves & made a believer of 7-year-old me, who, asked what I wanted for my birthday dinner, drew a picture of a spare rib, a bowl of lettuce & a bottle of its product on a piece of scrap paper. Pungent as it is, used sparingly, it doesn’t overpower but only showcases crudités & chilled shellfish like shrimp & crab.

Oceanaire’s green goddess dressing

Beef stroganoff
Funny that this Russian classic’s popularity was at its height in the 1950s; apparently the Cold War didn’t extend to stateside kitchens. Mushrooms were an American addition to the roux-thickened sauce of broth & sour cream, plus onions & a bit of Dijon—a fine one, I say. I suppose stroganoff was yet another casualty of the rise of nouvelle & its emphasis on vegetable & fruit purees, but come on—it’s got butter & flour & sour cream. And beef. Bring it back already.

SBGshortribpasta Buffalo short rib stroganoff at South Broadway Grill

Grasshopper pie
Recipes vary widely, but I like mine simple: no marshmallows, no Andes mints, just creme de menthe & creme de cacao liqueurs—the most exotic ingredients I could conjure as an 8-year-old at Thanksgiving dinner—along with cream, sugar, eggs & gelatin, atop a chocolate-cookie crust. Now that tiramisù’s finally fading, this is just the thing to fill the void.

Remind you of a few of your own old faves? Do tell!

*Primary reference: The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson

Menu Writing: The Good, The Bad, The Excruciating, by Denveater & MC Slim JB

The devil is in the detail, as the saying goes. (Sometimes it’s “details,” plural…see what I mean?) It holds as true for restaurants as for anything else—& thus for restaurant criticism, whose practitioners share the singularly annoying habit of actually caring about words & their proper usage.

And so it is that my old pal MC Slim JB, a beloved Boston-based scribe, & I have pored over menus in our time, analyzing our descriptive likes & dislikes. For instance, though they’ve toned down the quotation mark–laden pretension of a few years back considerably, to this day I’m irked by pompous, insiderly phrases like “foie gras for my mentors” on the menu at T. W. Food in Cambridge, Mass.; ditto the laborious claim on Root Down’s website that “much like jazz, Root Down is the combined effort of individual strengths coming together to create a rhythmic, interplaying, & improvisational masterpiece….We’re all about the convention of life in all its eclectic glory.” Effort of strengths in a combination that’s coming together? That’s a lot of collective exertion; must get sweaty. And eclectic convention? Is that like idiosyncratic orthodoxy?

By contrast, the minimalist style—to allude to this fascinating article on menu psychology Slim pointed me to—doesn’t do a lot for me personally: as much as I’d kill for a meal at Chicago’s Alinea (& I’d kill a lot), the fact that I can’t actually picture, say, “distillation—of Thai flavors” means I can’t drool in anticipation. And heavy salivating’s all part of the fun, n’est-ce pas? Granted, the same could be said of surprise, which is what Achatz is clearly going for; as the article quotes him, “I want [the menu] to be more mysterious as a clean, crisp, graphically laid-out object,” & besides, “our food is so manipulated that…it’s not going to look like [you] think it’s going to look anyway.” But in that case, it’s still going to be a surprise, so why not build the suspense with a few extra delicious syllables, like “dehydrated bacon swinging from a trapeze with a butterscotch ribbon & thyme leaves”?

And so it is that Slim & I have thought long & hard about the menus that inspire & seduce us along with the ones that leave us cold—or, worse, howling. Now it’s off our chests & on your shoulders, restaurateurs: hope it’s helpful.

Slim: I like Charles Draghi’s menus at Erbaluce. He did a printer font for his menu based on his handwriting, & always has really interesting ingredients and unusual preparations going on. He’s meticulous about citing his local sources without seeming boastful.

Deborah Hansen’s wine list at Taberna de Haro is fabulous. Her knowledge of & passion for Spanish wines really comes through, the wines are grouped sensibly by their approximate heft, & the descriptions are uncannily accurate & helpful. (I haven’t been to Ondo’s yet, but may it be half so good as this old fave of mine is—the marinated deep-fried shark I ate there a decade ago still circles in my brainwaves—D.)

O Ya (named the best restaurant in the US by the Times’ Frank Bruni in ’08—D.) has menu prose that seems perfectly suited to the exquisitely minimalist vibe & cuisine: it’s like a series of ingredient haikus.

D: The exuberance of startling juxtapositions on the menus of Neptune Oyster & Osetra Sono, run by the former Neptune Oyster chef—lobster crème fraiche gravy here, warm French goat cheese & cider syrup there—never fail to stir my soul. Closer to home, the same goes for Rioja—preserved lemon yogurt, gorgonzola-creamed farro, prosciutto-scented broth, are you kidding me? And Beatrice & Woodsley: even though some of the dish names are uselessly flowery (I don’t want my scallops to go on holiday; I want them right here, working overtime), the concrete descriptions themselves send me: olive oil–milk confiture, charred tomato–parmesan jam, roasted carrot mousse, yes oh yes. And then there’s Opus, whose website is being revamped—but keep your eyes peeled; it’s a meaty (but not fatty) read.


D: Overwriting & underwriting aside, it’s misspelling (along with its corollary, mispronunciation) that yanks my chain hardest for being at once the most common & most avoidable mistake. How familiar are you with your own ingredients? Have you studied their origins, their traditional uses? I’m a stickler for the notion that you have to know the rules in order to break them right; talented as you may be, talent without knowledge is a risk only the arrogant are willing to take. (We’re making an arbitrary exception here for speakers of non-Romance languages; Chinglish & its ilk tend to veer far too off-kilter to be anything but utterly charming, even poetically convincing. Yes, I will have the “benumbed hot vegetables fries fuck silk,” thank you very much. Sounds delish!)

Of course, faced with a misspelling, I don’t really automatically assume you don’t know, say, your hummus from your soil composed of decomposed matter and excrement (humus); but I might assume you don’t care—that your respect for your own raw material isn’t utmost.

Slim: These cringe-inducing errors are much more common at tourist traps, places whose traditional cooking credentials are suspect anyway. The red-sauce palaces of Boston’s North End are particular culprits: dumbass owner, dumbass menu. But plenty of fancy places trip up on menu prose, too: it just seems less common, which supports your “attention to detail throughout” premise.
Quite a few more fine-dining restaurants appear to be sweating the menu harder these days; there’s a fair amount of art & science that has emerged around menu prose, layout, etc. When properly done, it can justify higher menu prices, boosting revenue & margins. When you put that much focus on the menu, you tend to screw up less on spelling.

Here, then, is our little vocabulary primer, listing some of the worst offenses. Note that the majority are Italian, involving singular/plural and masculine/feminine distinctions—which is disheartening, because they’re really not that hard to master (minus a few rule-breaking exceptions). Look:

masculine singular

masculine plural

feminine singular

feminine plural

Learn ’em, live ’em.


for antipasto
I heard this recently on the Boston-local TV restaurant “review” show, Phantom Gourmet. I wonder: if you were to order the the antipasta & the pasta & they arrived at the same time, would the universe explode?—Slim.

artisinal for artisanal

arugala for arugula

buerre for beurre

cacciatora for cacciatore

cannoli for cannolo
The latter’s the singular (ditto ravioli for raviolo, panini for panino)—D.

cannolis for cannoli
The latter’s the plural (ditto raviolis for ravioli, paninis for panini)—D.

carmel for caramel/carmalized for caramelized

Ceaser for Caesar

chipolte for chipotle

fettuccini for fettuccine/linguini for linguine

gnocci for gnocchi

Grand Mariner for Grand Marnier

mesculin, mescaline, etc., for mesclun

scallopine for scaloppine

pizziola for pizzaiolo

proscuitto for prosciutto

Rueben for Reuben


for ah-sigh-ee (açai)

brooshetta for broosketta (bruschetta. C’mon, you’ve had decades to learn this one. There are even Facebook groups for getting it right—D.)

kuchaka for cachaça

chewreeko for shoo-reese-ooh or, more colloquially, shoo-reese (Portuguese chouriço)
As pronounced by Billy Costa, another local TV show host, who allegedly has some Portuguese ancestry—Slim.

chipoltay for chipohtlay (chipotle)

expresso for espresso
Mr. Costa, amazingly, again—Slim. FWIW, aside from the crazy Venetian dialect, there’s no x in Italian—D.

marscapoan for mahscarpohnay (mascarpone)

vinegar-et for vinehgret (vinaigrette)


Carbonara used to describe a cream-based sauce
Carbonara is creamy, but not due to the incorporation of milk or cream; it’s the combo of eggs and parmesan that give it its richness—D.

Confit for anything vaguely reduced or long-cooked
The term should be reserved for something salted & preserved in its own fat, most famously duck or goose—D.

Shrimp scampi (or gamberi scampi, mussels scampi, or scallops scampi)
Scampo is a crustacean, not a preparation—Slim.  Some might argue that widespread usage makes this legit, but I’m with Slim—why not just skirt controversy with the phrase “garlicky butter & white wine sauce”?

“We’re doing a rift on American cuisine.”
Kathy Sidell Trustman, owner of The Met Club steakhouse chain, in a TV interview on plans for a forthcoming Boston outlet—Slim. Oof—D.

And you, kids? Feel free to share your peeves; we’re all ears.

Stuff I Learned from Myself While Updating My Own Entries for The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America

By a strange stroke of luck (not to downplay my dazzling talent), back in 2003, I was offered the remarkable opportunity to write some entries—14, to be exact—for the 1st edition of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, chief-edited by none other than the illustrious Andrew F. Smith.


Seven years later, in the process of revising them for the 2nd edition, I’m thoroughly engrossed by my own findings on Beans, Brandy, Cafeterias, Corned Beef, Crullers, Dressings & Stuffings, Eating Disorders, Ginger Ale, Hot Toddies, Old-Fashioneds, Roadhouses, Sarsaparilla, Sweet Pickles & Toast, many of which I’d only half-remembered.

Thought I’d share a few choice tidbits with you.


Brandy. Did you know that “one much disputed but no less beloved bit of folklore finds Manhattan being baptized in brandy, as the beverage with which the English explorer Henry Hudson plied the Delaware Indians he met there in 1609; in honor of the hilarity that ensued, Hudson’s new associates named the spot Manahachtanienk, which translates roughly as ‘the place where we got drunk.’ Thus did the Big Apple spring from grapes”? Now you do.

Ginger Ale. “Though the precise circumstances of its invention remain unknown…there may have been a few American antecedents…[including] a Native American concoction containing ginger boiled with cinnamon…& switchell, a curious-sounding colonial American beverage made by combining ginger with molasses & vinegar.” Which I would totally drink. With bourbon.

Sweet Pickles. “American Indians themselves produced a maple-sap vinegar to preserve game in preparation for the winter.” Another brilliant experiment of the sort that contemporary American chefs are only replicating now that charcuterie & other forms of preservation are hot, in part to the lasting trend toward sustainable living.

Hot Toddies. “To many Americans, who know the toddy only as a steaming après-ski pick-me-up, the term ‘hot toddy’ may seem redundant. Yet it makes a legitimate distinction, for the cool toddy does exist. Both of these drinks reflect the climate of their birthplace; indeed, toddies may even be defined by their usefulness in countering the effects of extreme temperature.
The cool version has its origins in the tapped &fermented sap of certain tropical palms, for which British colonialists in India developed a taste & a name, toddy, derived from the Hindi word tari. The word traveled from the outposts of the British Empire to sultry plantation-era America, where Dixie gentlemen adopted it for their own combination of rum, sugar or molasses, & nutmeg, which was mixed with hot water & then cooled. It was also known as bombo, or, on occasion, bimbo. The hot toddy hails from eighteenth-century Scotland…The hot toddy’s popularity must have spread fast, if the lore that would-be American revolutionaries took courage from rounds of toddies (which were often heated by pokers straight from the tavern hearth) holds any truth…In colonial New England, however, rum or brandy often replaced the whiskey—and the punch bowl itself often precluded glassware, since drinking from a common vessel was considered properly sociable among tavern patrons.” Those guys knew how to party, & not just with tea.

Cafeteria. “It provided a solution to various logistical problems arising in the transition between a primarily agrarian and an essentially urban-industrial society: as fewer and fewer people worked on either their own land or their own time, & scheduled lunch breaks made midday commutes home impractical, the need for eateries that were conveniently located within commercial districts & streamlined for speed—as well as thrift—increased. This need was first met in the 1880s with the opening of the Exchange Buffet in New York City (met, that is, for men, to whom the place catered exclusively). It gained credence across the country in the next decade, boosted by an exhibition at the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair—where the term ‘conscience joint’ was coined in a nod to the honor system by which patrons settled the check—and by the efforts of such entrepreneurs as the brothers Samuel and William Childs, who are credited with introducing the system of lines and trays that defines the modern cafeteria.” Does this glimpse into our prandial past fascinate any other culinary history buffs besides me?

Dressing & Stuffing. “Important as it is to America’s festive culinary traditions, ‘dressing’ is a term that wants some pinning down. Above all, whether it is interchangeable with ‘stuffing’ is a matter of continual debate. On the one hand, insofar as ‘dressing’ came into use in the nineteenth century as a prim euphemism for the latter term, we can assume it is equivalent. On the other hand, the verbs ‘to dress’ & ‘to stuff’ have historically connoted distinct culinary procedures—the one having to do with the cleaning &preparing of the carcasses of fish or fowl & the other with the making of fillings of all sorts. In this light, dressing might be viewed as a subtype in the more general category of stuffing, namely, one related directly to meat cookery—whereby filling the animal cavity with various ingredients would simply constitute a later step in the dressing process. This verb-based distinction accords to some extent with the popular notion that, technically, stuffing is the mixture actually inserted into the animal to be consumed, while dressing is the same mixture cooked separately, ‘on the outside.’ At any rate, ‘stuffing’ is the dominant term, while ‘dressing’ inheres in regional vocabularies, particularly in the South & Southeast.”

That solves that.

For more, you’ll have to buy the 2-volume set.

Goat curry unplugged

You know I dig goat – curried, BBQ’d, pulled for tacos, what have you – but the 10-day-old kids I met on a farm tour yesterday may have gotten mine.

Because after petting them like puppies & hearing them go maa, maa

& watching them literally gambol about on their wobbly little legs,

I don’t know how easy it’ll be for me to gobble goat in future. I mean, I’m sure I’ll manage, but not without agitation.

Flashbacks to their mom will only make it worse.

Get a load of those teats. I shudder to think: udder vindaloo.

Pineapple is next! Mitch Hedberg’s 20 best food jokes

Mitch-hedberg0Maybe because we’re all in such memorializing moods these days, I’ve been thinking a lot about 1 of my all-time favorite comedians, the late Mitch Hedberg. I’ve paid homage to him before; he was a great one for food jokes. Whether or not his gloriously apparent preoccupation with snacking was a reflection of his tragic drug habit, he had a gift for the grub gag.

Of course, he had a gift for the guffaw regardless of the topic; you can read a fairly comprehensive sampling here. Or, better yet, you can buy his CDs—including the 1 titled Strategic Grill Locations or the 1 that pictures him drinking a Coke—here.


I was gonna get a candy bar; the button I was supposed to push was “HH,” so I went to the side, I found the “H” button, I pushed it twice. Fuckin’ potato chips came out, man! Turns out they had a “HH” button. You need to let me know. I’m not familiar with the concept of “HH.” I did not learn my AA-BB-CCs, god god dammit dammit.

I like vending machines ’cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes I will drop it, so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential.

This is what my friend said to me; he said, “Guess what I like, mashed potatoes.” It’s like,”Dude. you gotta give me time to guess. If you’re gonna quiz me, you must insert a pause in there.”

A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.

When you buy a box of Ritz crackers, on the back of the box, they have all these suggestions as to what to put on top of the Ritz. “Try it with turkey and cheese. Try it with peanut butter.” But I like crackers, man, that’s why I bought some, ’cause I like crackers! I don’t see a suggestion to put a Ritz on top of a Ritz. I didn’t buy ’em because they’re little edible plates! You’ve got no faith in the product itself.

I think they could take sesame seeds off the [McDonald’s] menu and I wouldn’t even care. I can’t imagine five years from now saying, “Damn, remember sesame seeds? What happened? All the buns are blank!”…How’s a sesame seed stick to a bun? That’s fuckin’ magical! There’s got to be some sesame seed glue out there! Either that or they’re adhesive on one side. “Take the sesame seed out, remove the backing, place it on the bun. Now your bun will look spec-tac-u-lar.” What does a sesame seed grow into? I don’t know; we never gave it a chance…What the fuck is a sesame? It’s a street… It’s a way to open shit…

I like baked potatoes. But I don’t have a microwave oven, and it takes forever to bake a potato in a conventional oven. Sometimes I’ll just throw one in there, even if I don’t want one. ‘Cause by the time it’s done, who knows?

I went to a pizzeria, I ordered a slice of pizza, the fucker gave me the smallest slice possible. If the pizza was a pie chart for what people would do if they found a million dollars, the fucker gave me the “Donate it to charity” slice. I would like to exchange this for the “Keep it!”

I like rice. Rice is great when you’re hungry and you want 2,000 of something.

If I was on death row and given one last meal I would ask for a fortune cookie. “Come on, ‘long prosperous life!'”

(Talking about his drink onstage) Look at all the limes in this goddamn thing! This fuckin’ thing is tropical! Look at the limes, how they float. That’s good news. Next time I’m on a boat and it capsizes, I will reach for a lime. Like I’ll be water-skiing without a life preserver, people will say “Shit!” and I will pull out a lime. I’m saved by the buoyancy of citrus.

My manager saw me drinking backstage and he said “Mitch, don’t use liquor as a crutch.” I can’t use liquor as a crutch, because a crutch helps me walk. Liquor severely fucks up the way I walk. It ain’t like a crutch, it’s like a step I didn’t see.

What am I drinking? NyQuil on the rocks, for when you’re feeling sick but sociable.

I’m an ice sculptor. Last night I made a cube.

I saw this wino, he was eating grapes. I was like, “Dude, you have to wait.”

I saw this dude—he was wearing a leather jacket, and at the same time he was eating a hamburger and drinking a glass of milk. I said to him, “Dude, you’re a cow. The metamorphosis is complete. Don’t fall asleep or I will tip you over.”

I had a piece of Carefree Sugarless gum and I was still worried. It never kicked in. I took it back to the store and said “Bullshit!”

I like how a duck’s opinion of me severely depends on whether I may or may not have bread.

I can’t wait to get off the stage, because I’ve got some LifeSavers in my pocket and pineapple is next!

The best for last:

When you go to a restaurant on the weekends and it’s busy they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say, “Dufresne, party of two. Dufresne, party of two.” And if no one answers they’ll say their name again. “Dufresne, party of two, Dufresne, party of two.” But then if no one answers they’ll just go right on to the next name. “Bush, party of three.” Yeah, what happened to the Dufresnes? No one seems to give a shit. Who can eat at a time like this? People are missing! You fuckers are selfish. The Dufresnes are in someone’s trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they’re hungry. That’s a double whammy. Bush, search party of three! You can eat when you find the Dufresnes.

Bonus food joke no. 21 here.

Includes AYCE manna buffet


A little taste of home: The Bob Evans Biscuit in a Bowl & Sausage Gravy Dispenser


If by “home” we mean “hell.” Which, of course, we often do. You want some powdered ham with that? Maybe a coffee slush?

Open love letter to David Nevins (Osetra Sono, South Norwalk, CT)

Dearest Dave:

Leaving you was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. As I opened the door of Boston’s Neptune Oyster that summer afternoon & walked out for the last time, tears in my eyes & a knot in the pit of my belly—okay, that was a lobster roll—I ached, how I ached, in a way only time could heal.

Time &


Or so I thought. But here I sit, hundreds of miles away, nearly two years hence, still dreaming of you & all those nights I spent moaning in ecstasy as you ravished me with your wild combinations of meat, fish & dairy products. How can I ever forget your masterful way with pickled beef tongue, fried oysters & gruyère? I cannot.

And yet, you too have moved on. A rambler, a rebel, you hit the road to make it all by your lonesome on the wide-open frontier of Norwalk, Connecticut—as I always knew, deep down, you would.

Thus it is that I languish here, Googling your website far too often for my own damned good, pining for Osetra Sono’s flash-grilled striped marlin with foie gras yogurt, chestnuts & golden raisins.

For lentil stew with both chorizo & smoked salmon (you sly thing!) topped with huitlacoche sour cream.

For red snapper in split pea broth with mussels, pistachios & lardo.

Pining, my God, for curried crab salad with crispy chicken crackles & green garlic cucumbers. As it were a lock of your hair, I have stolen your image file to gaze upon in rapture.


Until, my soulchef, the day we meet again.

Yours always,