Starting the day with a disagreement is never a good idea, but there are times when you (I say you, but I mean me) just can’t help it.
Like today, for example.
“What is this?” I demanded confronting L as she came down the stairs. “How did it get here?”
“Your son wanted it,” she said, dismissing the object I held out to her with a wave of her hand. “So, I made it for him.”
Listen to this, the hypertensive voice in my head said. Your son. She’s really saying it’s your fault. Don’t take that lying down. And, the voice continued, its cadence rising, made it, you can’t make this stuff, it’s manufactured somewhere. Probably in the same factories where they “enrich” uranium.
I hate that voice – all whiny and shrill – but sometimes it speaks some sense. Like it did this morning. I mean, I was only gone two nights. Two measly nights and my family backslides 15 years. And, to make matters worse, they can’t even hide the evidence. There it was, sitting on top of the recycling box like it had no problem being in my house.
“You’re just a food snob,” L said before I repeated anything the voice in my head was pressing me to shout. “Admit it.”
A moment of silence.
“I will not,” I finally dribbled much more weakly than I would have liked. “I mean, it’s not true. I am not a food snob.”
I just have standards. But, I am willing to compromise. And I can prove it. While my family was consuming The-Food-Like-Substance-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named (I hope in the dark to mask their shame), this is what I was eating. It’s a tale of standards maintained in compromising circumstances:
I had a light lunch of leftover prime rib on sourdough with some sharp old cheddar and a little tarragon mustard before heading to the airport. (I am pretty sure food snobs don’t eat leftovers). In the air, I politely declined the meal, suggesting to the attendant that perhaps their was someone further back in the plane who would enjoy it. I stuck to a glass of passable Malbec.
Anyone who thinks New York City is all fun and games has never been to LaGuardia airport (circling endlessly waiting in line to land, even when they’ve run out of Malbec). So, by the time I finally got to the hotel I felt as if I’d already done a day’s work. But, did I stop there, grab some fast food and call it a night? No, dutifully, I carried on.
The Breslin is a Manhattan (Chelsea) gastropub that had a good review in the New York Times. (On the plane, I had read the second glowing review in a week, this one in The New Yorker), but it’s still just a pub, right? Even if the onion and bone marrow soup was outstanding and the lamb burger melted in my mouth, the thrice-cooked fries were perfect and the micro-brewed beer (Spotted Pig) was just the right cellar temperature. Besides, they don’t take reservations, so you have to hang around sampling beer in the bar for ages before you get a table.
After a morning of meetings in Midtown, a colleague and I had lunch in a cafeteria. That’s right, a cafeteria. Have you ever seen a food snob in one of those?
Admittedly, the Google cafeteria is unlike most (I am not exactly sure what I am allowed to tell you about my lunch there as they make you sign a non-disclosure agreement when you sign in. So, read the rest of this fast before they slap a restraining order on me). It has multiple stations (vegan, seafood, home-style, dessert, just to name a few) of very fresh food and its prices are good (zero). But it’s still a cafeteria, right?
The “googlers” as they are called zip around the enormous space on scooters and enjoy snack bars, games rooms and three free meals a day. They sit together at long tables like you do in high school and they all looked like they should still be in high school. I was a bit overwhelmed by the choices – should I have the mussels or the roast chicken? Perhaps the grilled fish? – but finally settled for a small salad and braised short ribs with mashed potatoes. The beef was fall-off the bone tender. One googler told me he has to be very careful to not talk about what he had for lunch when he goes home to his wife. Here’s a photo gallery of what they eat at the “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California, where they have 19 cafés and even grow some of their own food.
OK, dinner is a little harder to defend given that it was held at the SoHo House, a private club attached to a boutique hotel. But, I was invited and didn’t want to seem rude. There were about 20 of us, sipping wine and eating family style. It must have been melt-in-your-mouth-meat week in New York because the beef tenderloin was sublime. But it was still served family style, right? Food snobs do not pass plates.
So, there you have it. A pub, a cafeteria and a family style meal. Hardly food snob territory even if it didn’t come out of a box.