Sunday, November 13, 2005

Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (Dining Edition)

After a celebratory meal the other night, our waitress remarked that I was the only patron that evening who didn't ask about the sweetbreads served as part of the five-course prix fixe meal. I offered a pleasant smile in return. She seemed clearly impressed with my food savvy, but that wasn't it. Ever since inadvertently eating horse meat in Venice, I've adopted a "Don't Ask. Don't Tell" strategy with food. Pancreas! It isn't just for breakfast anymore! (At least they desensitized me with oxtail on the second course.)

I am beginning to develop an evolutionary theory of gourmet food. Perhaps these restaurants began life in competition with other fine dining establishments, initially choosing the finest cuts of meat possible. Perhaps they eventually found themselves being edged out by competition, which forced them to progressively cut more and more corners to maintain profitability. Quality of cut was repeatedly sacrificed (compensated by spice and alcohol). After a few generations of this survival strategy, they found themselves purchasing organs and tails. Perhaps they initially offered family-size, heaping bowls of organs and tails only to find this tended to drive people away. Perhaps they eventually realized people would be willing to pay more for smaller portions and a premium for portions reduced to the size of a golf ball.

Groucho: "How much is the big bowl of organs and tails?"
Chico: "$10."
Groucho: "How much is the golf ball sized portion?"
Chico: "For you, I make special rate: $30."
Groucho: "How much is an empty plate with nothing on it?"
Chico: "Oh, my friend, you couldn't afford it."


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