Chefs and politicians have something in common. (Hint: they both want you to eat something.)
There’s a new trend in always-trendy New York City, and this one pits fussy diners against fussier chefs. According to the New York Times, a number of eateries, from bagel shops to bastions of haute cuisine, have grown weary of “special requests” from their increasingly demanding clientele and have determined to put a stop to it. Some are understandable: one chef refuses to serve ketchup with the frites that accompany the coq au vin. Others are more puzzling: the bagel shop refuses to toast its bagels. But most of the resistance is to people claiming to be “allergic” to ingredients they just don’t want.
Our favorite in this regard comes from food and wine writer Rose O’Dell King, who recalled the time a chef received an order for “Beef Wellington, no mushrooms (customer allergic.)” A perfectly acceptable response to this bizarre notion could be something along the lines of “THEN ORDER SOMETHING ELSE, TWIT!” But we are also advised of a restaurant that will only offer its steaks cooked rare, medium or well. “There is no ‘medium rare’ in France,” sniffs the owner. Another establishment will only serve its burgers with Roquefort cheese. Others refuse to stock diet sodas, or serve espresso to go (paper cups won’t hold the heat). Still another has a grudge against mayonnaise. And there’s one that won’t serve decaf.
But anyone who has suffered a fellow diner offering explicit and lengthy instructions on their food preparation may sympathize with the chefs. The poor devils spend their lives figuring out how to prepare unique dishes that can propel them to fame and fortune, and their reaction to “Sole, please, broiled, not poached, no fennel or butter, and chopped fresh arugla in the salad instead of the red onion” might mirror that of a chef I knew in the 70s: when confronted by a request like this for the first time, he simply sent out a plate with the raw ingredients and a note requesting the diner to take it all home and cook it herself.
Why is this interesting to The Daily Cannibal? Well, ponder this:
The same people who rewrite restaurant recipes will swallow whole a political agenda of far many more ingredients simply because they are “Democrats” or “Republicans” or “liberals” or “conservatives.” Want a smaller government? Then you must be anti-abortion. Want to control medical costs? Then you must vote for our health care bill. Want better education? Well, we have to spend twice as much money. And so on.
Menus and politicians have this in common: they all start out with the same optimistic descriptions, but it all ends up in a toilet bowl. Chefs tell what you get going in, and politicians try to feed you what you get coming out.