dream 3 – dining out
Then the terminal scene. It’s New York, and one of those corner neighborhoods that somehow you’ve never exactly been in before, you’ve skirted the edges, but this street is new to you. It’s lined with concept-driven middlebrow restaurants, à la those discussed at the end of this post. Places where you order over the counter and then sit and wait, places where the food rolls around on a conveyor belt, places where you sit at collective tables, etc. * I am supposed to meet someone; I am supposed to find somewhere for us to meet – though it’s never quite clear who it is that I am attending, as they never show.
The street resolves into one of these restaurants, which somehow has gotten planning permission to build right over the street, across entire intersection, blocking further walking so that everyone who has made it this far has only two choices: turn back or enter the restaurant. And in fact, once you enter, you find that there is in fact a back door, one that would allow you to continue your journey, but they’ve constructed the place such that you have to pay at the till, order some food, in order to use it.
You notice someone, younger than you and braver, jump the queue and exit through the back door. It nonetheless remains clear to you that you won’t do this. You step outside through the front door, check your phone for messages. There are none. And then you step back inside and try to figure out what to order.
The place serves sushi-like, un or undercooked items. Save that the items are organs, sheep’s gut and fatted livers, kidneys and the like. ** They do their own butchery on site; that is the concept of this one – along with the innovative turn that you can’t leave in the right direction without paying. And then you wake up.
* London restaurants of the middle-palate chain variety tend to combine a food concept with a service concept. Wagamama’s does rather nice pan-asiatic stuff, and (but) you (have to) sit at collective tables. YO! Sushi (I don’t eat sushi, so I’ve never been – I’ve only stared in the window at the Brunswick Centre) does, um, sushi but does the conveyor belt, color-coded plate thing. I could go on. The reason why this happens here and not so much in New York is because labour costs so much more here, whereas the price in New York drops close enough to zero when you factor in the armies of illegals that work in every single NYC restaurant…. So if I am lucky, someone will open a really nice line offering passable Mexican food, but undoubtedly you’ll drop coins into a bank of automat vending machines or something to get them and then squat on the floor to eat them. That sort of thing.
** Dream seamed out of vague disturbing initial stuff having to do with my cats with a thematic overlay from one of those pet hospital shows that much to my, no frustration isn’t the word, horror-struck disgust came on in a public place where I was forced to watch or look away and no doubt sur-triggered by related things on CNN last night (a feature on the stupid Egyptian pig cull a few month back and the resultant piles of organic garbage that are flooding Cairo at the moment, another piece on Roger Moore’s simultaneous campaigns for UNICEF and against foie gras). The first thing featured a veterinarian holding a still-living sheep’s intestines in his hands, in the second they were euthanizing pigs by forcing them to drink some sort of solution, and the third featured images both of the force-feeding of the ducks and a still of a normal duck liver next to the enormous, bloated organ that goes into fois gras.
But the funny thing is, whenever I see this sort of image and squeamishly look away, *** and then back again, and the away again, and so on, I always say to myself or whomever is with me, This is why I couldn’t be a doctor, a surgeon. My mother wanted me to be a surgeon but this is why I couldn’t be.
*** Someone was reading the Evening Standard the other day, which featured on the cover a terrible story about a home invasion that took place not far from my house. The person in question forced me to look away; would not show me the piece in question, allow me to read it. It was an interesting reaction, not to let me read it.