Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Sitting around my friend L's new Midtown West kitchen before we headed out for dinner, she dropped a bombshell: one of the guys coming with us was a picky eater. My ears went back.

How picky? We're talking vegetarian? Vegan, even?

No, came the response-- he was the kind of guy who had no qualms about ordering buttered noodles at a restaurant.

(I'll let you absorb that for a minute.)

When he got there, he decided we'd be getting... Italian food. Great.

Tripping down Restaurant Row, I had to pass Thai places, Turkish, fusion, modern FRENCH, even, for Gob's sake. What the hell. We eventually found a suitable Italian place. True story: we veto'd the first restaurant we found because they offered prix fixe (why is this bad?) and the second because the menu was in Comic Sans. Leaving the second place might have been my influence.

The restaurant itself was nice and our table was close to the open windows. My big problem was with the actual food on the menu: none of the pasta dishes contained any sort of meat (not even chicken)*. L asked if they could throw some ground beef into the sauce or whatever, but the waiter blanched and refused. *(Inside my head: "If this place turns out to be motherfuckingvegetarian ON TOP OF BORING ITALIAN, I will actually leave.")

We all settled for pizzas and watched the Picky Eater tuck into some plain bread. To his credit, he was a nice person and an interesting conversationalist. But the concept that his choice was a margarita pizza (with some pancetta) over any other food in the area boggled my mind. He regaled us with stories about his trips to various European cities. While he's a fan of Italian fare and French bread, not once in Spain (!!), or Prague did he try the local food.

"No one goes to the Czech Republic and eats Czech food."

Erm. Wrong.

(My "food" tagged photos)

You see, my friends and I-- we're eaters. We do Restaurant Week, order head cheese with our microbrews, go on tours to meet grass-fed cows and locally reared pigs. I spent Saturdays in London at Borough Market, epicenter of foodie existence in the UK. Yea, I might have been eating chicken-flavored crisps now and then. I still made time to get crackling sandwiches with horseradish and Cumberland sausages from Roast To Go. To up my street cred, I recently had a slightly sticky moment over an Eccles cake at St. John in Spitalfields.

My parents always forced me to try: just try and then you'll know if you don't like it. An exchange trip to France in high school introduced me to gavage on a farm somewhere in the equivalent of the Deep South. While the other kids winced as the feeding tube went down the throat of the goose to fatten it up for foie gras, I got psyched for the country pâté we'd taste and take home.

I'm not a food snob, per se: I eat Ramen and Taco Bell and other crap. I'll never have a stash of canned Korean cabbage in the cupboard or butcher my own pig. I will, however, totally go see them do it at Marlow and Daughters.

It's just that picky eaters freak the shit out of me. There's so DAMN much to experience with food and good drink. I can't imagine willingly depriving myself of that. Not to mention, a few of them can't compromise. The next person to end up dragging me to get mediocre but expensive pizza when what I really wanted was a bit more... interesting... well, I fear for him.

For the record: my Czech dinner (meat, bread dumplings, gravy, lingonberry sauce over everything) was fantastic, especially with the rain and the cold keeping us bundled up.

1 comment:

Emily Marie said...

I have to agree with you here; I thought Czech food was delicious! How can you go wrong with potato or bread dumplings dipped in gravy? I'm unfortunately married to a picky eater and it's quite annoying when we travel.

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