It was so when I started blogging, and it still is today: nobody does it quite like Lileks.
Yes, James, I mean that as a compliment. Highest praise, in fact.
Ever opened a menu, looked at it up and down, and thought: there’s not a damned thing here that strikes my fancy. Oh, there’s a hamburger, but it’s off to the side in a box, which tells you that they’ll make it if they must, but really. You came here. For a hamburger. I mean, I recognized everything – chicken, for example; I clung to that as a lifeline. If all else fails there’s chicken – but you’d find a word that had promise, like Ravioli, and it would be immediately followed by “gourd” or or “braised okra,” and you realized that everything here was going to be subtle. The menu was proud to announce that all the foods were locally produced, which really isn’t the first thing I look for when I’m dining out. No one ever takes a bite of steak and says “man, you can really taste the proximity.”
The beef dish – which had no price; it was Market Price, the fluctuations in the daily beef market being so volatile they can’t commit – was described in a way that failed to suggest the form or shape or type of beef, only that it was beef, and there was okra, and perhaps artisanal potatoes. There was fondue for appetizers, but we were assured it wasn’t Seventies fondue.
“Although fondue in the Seventies could be awesome,” said the waiter, who was born around the time Prince started disappointing the casual fan. When it came I noticed that the forks were from the 50s or 60s, a rather staid design. This meant were supposed to consume the fondue without irony. If they’d come with long orange skewers we would have to be self-conscious about how they were reinventing a long-maligned dish, and how the period forks were putting a kitschy gloss on the experience to justify ordering the fondue.
Eating as a pastime is more work than you’d think.
Nice. And man, I hate those precious, pretentious places myself. Fortunately, they tend not to survive too long. Immediately followed by: Kelvinators, Rockolas, and how you do a feature story. Naturally.