I recently attended a dinner party thrown by a friend who fancies herself a gourmet chef. She’d prepared a lavish dinner for six and I was the first to finish eating because everybody else just couldn’t stop jabbering about how splendid it all was.
When each dish appeared, our host would explain what it was: “This is a pan fried, minced Sicilian inbred butterfly ravioli, infused with a reduction sauce of strained and pounded Nigerian roast garlic pod, exfoliated in Albanian ginger grass, marinated for three hours in a deluded joie de pomegranate cream sauce, spiced with a soupcon of fennel de mer and served in a tower on a bed of enhanced, devolved, ersatz rice-spinach.”
All I heard through dinner was foodie talk: “My taste buds are absolutely tingling from the sprightly forensic climax of the divine roast garlic pod.” “This exfoliated ginger grass is better than sex.” “The Chardonnay really brings out the full explosive demeanor hidden subtly in the fresh, flagrant enigma of the rice-spinach.”
To me, it resembled Chef Boyardee’s canned ravioli that tasted a little like licorice. Only she’d spent eight hours cooking it and arranging it artistically on the plate. Admittedly, the design created by ravioli plopped out of a can isn’t all that esthetic, but it all ends up in the toilet anyway so who cares?
It’s just as annoying at gourmet restaurants. You order salmon and you get a piece of something pinkish the size of your big toe, usually served on “a bed” of something. Why does food now have to be served on a bed? Is it sleepy from soaking in a marinade? And there’s always a sprig of something on top. I usually toss that aside immediately.
At the really expensive restaurants, you’re given palate cleansers. Who needs it? My tastes buds, primitive as they may be, can tell the difference between meat loaf and ice cream.
Speaking of ice cream, when did sherbet become sorbet?
A foodie acquaintance of mine recently tried to convince me that truly great chefs are on the same level as truly great artists. In other words, according to her, a really terrific crème brulee is on the same level as Moby Dick and The Moonlight Sonata. Really? Really?
In my youth, when you went to a restaurant, you got a nice big plate of food and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to arrange it on the plate. The steak was between the fries and the cole slaw. There were no specials, the waiters weren’t snooty and the menus were written by someone whose primary language was not Frenchified gibberish.
What is this absurd obsession with food? Is everybody a food snob now? Here we are, sitting in restaurants, oohing and ahhing about reductions and infusions of towers of food, which cost enough to supply club sandwiches to the entire population of Sierra Leone for a year.
Back to my friend’s dinner party: After one petite bite, one of the guests said to our host, “Suzette, this is simply to die for!”
I looked up from my plate. “Oh really, Gwendolyn?” I asked. “If this dish were in the middle of a burning house, are you saying you would risk your life, run into the flames and save it from becoming toast?”
I was ignored for the rest of the evening while everybody else chattered about the grub, which was fine because I was the only one who finished the sorbet before it had turned into soup.