Tuesday, January 18, 2005

You Eat That?

I have little experience with actual America. Lillet knows better.

We were some five hours yet only 100 miles outside of Brooklyn, at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was surprised to see the rest stop as busy as Grand Central at rush hour. Well, okay, not that busy. But surprisingly busy. Why was everyone wearing sweats? There's still Roy Rogers? What the hell is Cinnabon? Or Freshëns? What the hell is Freshëns and why are they committing these orthographic crimes? Why are two Advil $4??

Such questions did I ponder as Lillet used the Ladies' room. I bought her the Post, the one with the photograph of Arafat's head Photoshopped onto a bowling pin. Her assumption was that I would want to grab some food to go and get back into the car, having already lost so much time to holiday traffic and bad weather. I am a guy. I can be impatient. But I would much rather make a 13 hour drive out of an 8 hour drive than not to sit and have a reasonble, calm meal. So I directed my unbelieving fiancée to Country Kitchen.

Or was it Kuntry Kitchen? I keep wanting to type that. I keep wondering whether I remembered correctly. So I Googled it and found that there is a Kuntry Kitchen and even a Kountry Kitchen but we ate at
Country Kitchen and it was at their website that I found this photograph.

One thing about this photograph is that somebody, presumably several people, finds this appetizing. Someone conceived of the idea, someone hired a photographer, someone prepared this food or else built some sort of model meant to resemble something suggesting food. At least a couple of people sorted through all the photographs and some decision-maker said, this, this one. This is the one that will make people go, Mmm-mmm! Remember that picture we saw on the Internet? Let's pull off here and eat at Country Kitchen!

The other thing about this photograph is that it is a fairly accurate representation of what the people at Country Kitchen will place in front of you and expect you to eat and pay for. I was not surprised by the menu. I knew that fried mozzarella sticks would lead-off the Appetizer section. But I was surprised by our server, a young man so fucking coked-up as to give Scarface himself pause. But wait, no. The way he was shaking, the sweat, the bloodshot eyes and -ewww - what the fuck is running out of his eyes? This guy was on crystal meth. Lovely. Wait a minute ... the entire fucking staff of this restaurant is cranked.

Whatever. We read the Post and pushed objects around on our plates.

I am not a snob about food and certainly not a gourmet. I just think that food ought to be made from relatively fresh ingredients, taste good, and be nutritious. Country Kitchen failed on all three of these very simple counts. And this is not even a fast-food restaurant.

One-third (one-third!) of this country is obese. Not overweight, not fat, but obese. I think that this is less about Americans being indulgent or lazy or stupid as it is about how completely void of nutritive value are most of our choices at places like Country Kitchen. You have to have several helpings of fried mozzarella sticks to get all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals you need just to have the strength to operate the remote. And if you grow up eating food like this, if you grow up thinking that it is the norm to eat at Interstate rest-stops and to get your food from drive-up windows, then you could end up like the three women I once saw in a Denny's in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I watched the manager unbolt a table from the floor so that these three morbidly obsese women could sit in a booth. He did this so matter-of-factly that I took it to be something he did on a regular basis. Two of these women ordered nachos. One ordered an ice cream sundae.

I once spent a couple of weeks in Italy, eating nightly with Italians in local restaurants. It goes without saying that the food was spectacular. It was also reasonably priced. Never did I have a meal that lasted less than three hours. I believe that eating this way makes not only for a better life, but also for a longer one. And please give me one Euro for each of my dollars before you tell me about how Italians don't get anything else done.

Oh, and why is it that French women don't get fat? It's not because they're eating at Country Kitchen.


Blogger Adrem said...

Hah! That was a picture of food? From a place called "Country Kitchen"? I live in the South, in a place you can likely refer to as the country, and the only place I've seen anything even close to resembling that was in the gut of a raccoon. No offense to the people who run the place (oh, what the hell, they won't read this anyways), but if you have "raccoon innards", you'd be better off selling to the "true" country families (perfectly represented by the old TV show, The Beverely Hillbillies). "I just think that food ought to be made from relatively fresh ingredients, taste good, and be nutritious." I agree, food ought to have those qualities. I have one addition to make, though. I would prefer my food actually look like, well, you know, food. Even being from the country, the idea of eating something that looks (however remotely) like the intestines of a raccoon doesn't appeal to me. Did they at least cover up the stench with some aromatic fragrances (i.e. body sweat, roadkill, etc)? One can only hope.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

You should have seen the "salad" they served!

9:49 AM  
Blogger Adrem said...

I'm sure the salad consisted of many wonderful things... i.e. brown lettuce, red tomatoes with a hint of mold (though it was played off as a new type of tomato that lasted longer, and was fresher, or some such), and, who could forget, salad dressing in a solid state! Ahh, I pity those who eat there. I pity even more the people who like such food. This is why America's average IQ is below average...

7:56 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

TIP: Never eat at chain restaurants. While traveling eat at either upscale restaurants, (the better hotels usually have a decent restaurant in them), or eat at "greasy spoons". The place the locals eat. Look for truckstops also. Surprisingly truck stops usually have very good food.

But never eat at chain resaurants.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

What is a Cinnabon? Toxic waste that smells like Cinnamon. Be afraid!

8:00 PM  
Blogger Ashbloem said...

On my way to work today at 6 fucking AM, the woman sitting in front of me on the bus gave her child a pack of doritos to eat. He was probably 6 or so. DORITOS. AT 6AM.

That photo reminded me of some photos in this: http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/meat/index.html

1:52 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...

Ahhh ha hah haAA! Ashbloem, that is awesome!



9:40 AM  

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