Like the ghetto gourmet , ordering off-menu is another foodie fantasy of mine. In my fantasy, without calling ahead to speak to chef, or having an intricate conversation with the waitstaff, without even looking at the menu, and with a jaunty toss of my brown curls and a mischievous grin, I would say: “Yes, I’ll have what they're having. What? It’s not on the menu? It’s the chef’s choice? Sure, I’ll take two. Or better yet, create something new for me, I eat everything. I eat anything!” In my mind, that’s who I am. Ready to try something new, always ready to have a new experience or adventure, culinarily and otherwise. In reality, I’m pretty risk-averse, always prepared, and sometimes when I’m meant to try something new I back off because it’s just doesn’t feel right. Sigh. Fantasy and reality. The differences can be stark.
This article made me think of the precious few times I have indeed said sure the chef can create something for me. One time that I told you about was at Mas Farmhouse here in NYC. It was a yummy vegetarian dinner that didn’t make me sick in the slightest [I was still in my vegetarian double-decade]. The most memorable moment was when our server returned to the table, after I listed my list, saying, the chef would be happy to create a menu for you; he loves a challenge. Wow, did I love that moment. Was I concerned? Sure. But, at some point I decided to let go. I had told him all the ingredients that I couldn’t have and I needed to have some trust.
I can’t stress how big this point is for someone with life-long food allergies. What a turning point it is. Making food for your friends, your loved ones, your child, these are intimate, beautiful acts of necessity as well as love. But letting a stranger, albeit a highly trained one, create nourishment for you takes on a more intense level of trust and intimacy, if that’s possible.
And it worked out⎯it was a terrific meal, both from a foodie standpoint and because I didn’t get sick! I’d like to try it again.
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