|"We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friend, so we buy ice cream" |
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I nearly died the other night. Food-died. And it all started because I was meeting someone new.
First a tip: If you want to get to know someone take them out to dinner. The barriers come down because you're both participating in a common need for sustenance. Then you have to sit there for a while so you start talking. Then if the food is amazing you can freak out about it with mutual excitement. And if things really roll you might go as far as to make a spectacle of yourself screaming and giggling over movies and actors and men who wear kilts. This is particularly effective if the eating establishment is schmancy.
Once you become familiar with the other person's attributes and realize you two totally jive, you can become pals. Furthermore, you can become so chummy and relaxed that you start sucking up food like a Bissell with no shame, and both of you end up needing to be rolled out in a wheel barrow at the end. Erm. What makes you think I speak from experience?
'Kay, so like, night before last? I got to know a very cool woman while Robert Redford's chef totally turned me into Violet Beauregard--the little chicklet in the old Willy Wonka flick who snarfed the food-gum and blew up into a ginormous blueberry. The chef was new and had a completely astonishing menu. Like I ate more than any human being or boa constrictor were ever meant to eat. But I did so while in the course of making a new friend. So it was for a good cause. Which means the food had no calories. And I want to share that with you so you, too, can make friends and lose weight. Here's how it works:
You get your husband to take you up to Robert Redford's Tree Room in the tops of the Rocky Mountains because the huz has been meeting with a contracted researcher and they are starved and need to eat anyway so why not take you all up to the most gorgeous and not cheap restaurant in the state?
Then you decide to order the new chef's Tasting Menu, which consists of a 6-course meal, because you feel adventurous and the new friend--who is from the environs of New York--applies peer pressure and since you are trying to impress her as your husband's wife you go ahead and cave in. Also it sounds amazing and you wanted to anyway. But mostly it was her fault.
Everyone else also orders their own dishes and promises to help you eat yours (and you let them because you're meeting someone new. You don't want to be a piglet), and then the food starts coming. And it goes like this:
Meal Prologue: Everyone gets a funky deep spoon filled with heirloom tomato puree, an heirloom cherry tomato, a tiny slice of fresh mozzarella, and fresh herbs. The server calls it "Cuh-preeees." We giggle cuz EVERYONE knows it's "Cuh-pray-zae," right? The bonding has started.
First Course: Braised short ribs with a salad of mandarine oranges and steamed shoots of some sort that taste like a cross between pea and lemon grass. (O.M.Gosh! Meat is so tender that I touch it with my fork and it literally collapses onto the plate in defeat.) Everyone partakes a little and dies a little. We feel, you know, familiar with each other.
Second Course: A lovely watercress Salad with pesto cream. And a cherry tomato of death. A cherry tomato that after I pop it into my mouth turns out not to be a tomato so much as A KUMQUAT PICKLED IN SO MUCH VINEGAR THAT IT SUCKS ALL THE SALIVA FROM MY MOUTH AND MAKES MY EYES POP OUT. Should totally come with a surgeon general's warning. We laugh and I drink everyone's water.
Third Course: Deconstructed clam chowder. Coolest. Soup. Ever. Consists of a wicked -awesome broth that tastes like the ocean with a bit of white wine splashed in, 4 freshly steamed clams in the shell (like they were still making out their last wills and testaments), accompanied by tiny fingerling potatoes, dolloped with cream, and spooned with caviar. CAVIAR. Right? We all ooh and ah and start nudging each other knowingly. Knowing, you know, how cool we all are to be eating caviar. More bonding.
Fourth Course: Some kind of fish thing that starts with an H. Humari? Humberto? HumptyDumpty? Can't remember. But it is white. And seared to a delicious herbed crust, served with steamed fresh carrots and beans and turnips and fennel. With a funky little sauce. And oh yeah, the Humarooni-fish is raw inside. WAIT? RAW?! ER . . . I don't do no food that can beg for mercy. It needs to be dead. DEAD. I mean, those clams were pushing it. So my new friend has to assure me that, since she speaks Sushi and can vouch for the food safetyness of what is before me, I should man-up and eat it. I will be delighted. Look, she'll try some first. Ooooh! It's like buttah! Go on, little Janiel! You can do it! Open wiiiiide!
So I do. And then we are friends.
Food Break: Also called a palate cleanser. Which I really need since my tongue is still numb from the evil Kumquat of Death. This is mixed berry sorbet, which we all gasp over and fall into like we're being wrapped in purple velvet. We start pulling out the kid-photos. And the photo of her pants-eshewing-huz in a kilt. I pull out the photo of my bruthah in his kilt. We decide men in kilts need to wear combat boots. And I think kilts are kinda hot. Try to drop hints that huz should start wearing kilts but he totally does not pick up.
Fifth Course: Seared elk in square medallions. Which would make them squaredallions. And I can't remember what else came with it because by this time my new BFF and I have found a mutual--but totally respectful as we are both happily married--
Sixth Course: Dignity is out the window. You'd think we'd been drinking, but as cough syrup puts me under the table I don't drink. And my new BFF is being polite so she isn't drinking. We're just spazzes. And we go OH. MY. GOSH! YOU WATCH "DOWNTON ABBEY?" SO DO I! I KNOW, RIGHT? YOU KNOW SHIRLEY MACLAINE IS ON NEXT SEASON. YOU DON'T? SHE TOTALLY IS! IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME! WHAT ABOUT "BALLYKISSANGEL" AND "MONARCH OF THE GLEN?" SURELY YOU'VE SEEN THOSE. YOU HAVEN'T? GIRL. GIRRRRRL. YOU MUST SEE THOSE. WAIT I'LL EMAIL YOU A LIST OF SHOWS. "FATHER TED?" BWAAAHAHAHAHA! HAVE YOU SEEN CATHERINE TATE'S "OFFENSIVE INTERPRETER?" NO? BAAAHAHAHAHAHA! YOU MUST MUST SEE IT! GIGGLE, SNIFF, SHRIEK WITH LAUGHTER. WAIT, WE NEED TO KISS THE CHEF BECAUSE THIS WAS AMAZING (we totally did), AND WE NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM TOGETHER SO WE CAN DO MORE FEMALE BONDING. 'KAY BYE, HUSBAND OF AWESOMENESS WHO PUTS UP WITH THIS.
Oh yeah. And there was desert. Wicked awesome desert. Deep dark molten cake and strawberry shortcake and mango sorbet and 2 other sorbets, and then these amazing hand made truffles. BUT OMIGOSH RICHARD ARMITAGE!!!!
So. That's how you do it. And I didn't gain any weight (except this is a lie). But I gained a friend (this isn't). Looking forward to hangin' wit her again. And I'm on the prowl for more BFFS. Anybody wanna do lunch?