On Being a Food Writer and Hence, a Food Expert

Mattaman McKearnee
August 19, 2007
Mattaman McKearnee
August 21, 2007

“Oh you must know all about restaurants,” they say. Because I work, as I say, for a magazine, that they say, has something to do with food. It’s all hearsay.

But I tell them anyway, because they’re interested: Indian food? 15th and Blake. Greek? That’s tough. They serve roast beef at 17th and Downing; that’s the best I can do. Latin American-Lebanese fusion? Umm. King Soopers, 9th and Corona. Take a bag of pita and some cannabis.

“Cannabis…” they write down meticulously. I stare at the scribbles over their shoulder as they attempt to spell it three times, erasing feverishly after each attempt. Finally, they give in. “MJ” is jotted quickly beside the street names.

“What would you recommend there?”

“Well, since the Lebanese are strictly vegetarian by virtue of their religion,” I expound completely fallaciously, “order the duck.”

They nod, understanding everything. The duck, yes, vegetarian duck, certainly. Nod, nod. Yes. “Is it expensive?”

“The duck?”

“The restaurant.”

“Oh, it’s quite inexpensive. A steal really.” I scratch my chin, feeling for some stray bit of facial hair I can tug on. There isn’t any.

“So, would you say, $5?”

“For the duck?”

“For the bill.”

“Why wouldn’t you order the whole duck?”

“I would. I’d pay for that too.”

“But you’d order it separate from the bill?”

“No, it would be on the same bill.”

“So you’ve created a layered duck dish with bill on the bottom.”

“At the end of the meal?”

“No, I would have it as an entrée.”

“But how will I know how much it will cost?”

“Usually it’s on the menu.”

“The bill is on the menu?”

“Sure. If the duck is, the bill must be.”

“They place it on the menu?”

“I would assume so. Unless it’s a special. Then you’ll have to ask.”

“A special bill?”

“Well not the bill specifically, just bills in general.”

“So I have to ask for the bill?”

“Precisely.”

“For the entrée.”

“Indeed.”

“And it’s vegetarian?”

“The bill is quite vegetarian.”

“Well I would assume so, but I’m not going to eat the bill.”

“No, no! It’s just there to bring out the flavors of the dish.”

“Indeed, but you pay for it.”

“Oh, with indigestion.”

“From the duck?”

“No, just the duck bill. But it’s worth it, my friend. Enjoy!”

And they go about their merry way, certain that the duck bill vegetarian dish at King Soopers will be a delightful treat for their extended family when they come to visit from Nicaragua and Beirut, respectively.

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