Friday, July 31, 2009

Open Letter To A Restaurant That Is Friendly

To Whom It May Concern:
After a lovely meal at one of your restaurants yesterday, my son and I ordered ice cream - he decided on mint chocolate chip (he’s a sucker for the classics), and I got vanilla blended with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. When our ice cream arrived, his looked normal enough, but I was given a cup and the most mysterious spoon I have ever seen.
As a chef and a lover of soups, I’ve seen a lot of spoons in my day. On top of that, I know the extraordinary power that flatware can have. I’ve seen my cousin burst into tears by the mere presence of a runcible spoon on the table, and been enchanted by the haunting sound of a toothless man playing the spoons in rural Arkansas. But nothing comes close to the spoon I received yesterday.
Since I am unable to attach a picture of the spoon into the ‘Contact Us’ section of your website, I’ll describe it – It’s plastic (so I brought it home, I hope you don’t mind), and the bowl, or ‘action’ end of the spoon is normal in every way... but here’s where it gets odd... I can’t figure the handle out. It’s rectangular and hollow, with two ventilation holes along the run of the handle, and it has an odd hook at the end, as if it wants to be attached to something. The hollow handle looks like it should be stacked with other spoons, but I can’t see any way that one spoon would fit inside another without cutting off the business end, and the air holes suggest that it might be used as a wee little straw – although I can’t see how this would be practical since you would have to immerse the entire length of the handle to get any suction. Plus, lets be honest with each other, if you immerse the entire spoon your face would be all the way down there anyway, and you might as well just drink it. I must admit, it did remind me of the brief time I spent in a Ninja training camp where we were taught to hide just below the surface of the water and breathe through a short length of hollow reed. I can’t imagine this was the spoons intended purpose however, because I think that your enemy would become suspicious if they saw the bowl end of a spoon sticking out of the water. So much for the element of surprise... foiled by a spoon.
The hook is another matter all together. It’s not really a hook per se, by itself the spoon wouldn’t really hang on anything, and it seems to be more of a clip – as though something would lock into place when it was inserted all the way down the shaft of the spoon handle. Since I can’t imagine that each individual spoon is locked securely into place until someone orders a Friend-z, I’m wondering if our server might have neglected to give me some mysterious spoon attachment. A game perhaps? A tiny ball and string that you have to attach to the spoon and swing into the cavity? Maybe you should consider, if you haven’t already, including a survival kit inside of the spoon’s shaft with one of those little wire saws with metal rings on each end, some matches, and a tiny foil emergency blanket. I would totally buy one of those. What a great stocking stuffer too! Emergency spoons for everyone on my list... Plus if you could modify the hook end a bit so you could fish with it, you might really have something, I’d never leave home without my Friend-z spoon.
I would be happy to send along a picture of the spoon if you’re not sure which one I’m talking about, or if you are at all concerned our server might have slipped in some rogue spoon that was never intended to be served with a Friend-z. That being said, our meal was delicious, even though I am haunted by your flatware. Please let me know as soon as possible what the higher purpose for this spoon is so that I can return to my normal life, unburdened by the mystery of your Friend-z spoon.

(Letter was submitted on 7.30.09... I'll let you know as soon as they answer. Until then...)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spoons and Barns

Since we moved into this house about seven years ago, Sara has been on an endless quest to turn it into a home. I’m the sort of person that would rather stay here than move, so I’ve been making an honest effort to improve the place little by little. Just to give you some perspective, on any given day she will see a for sale sign somewhere and make a list of the reasons we should immediately move before someone else gets the house – and on any given day I consider all of the reasons that would make me leave this place... Decaying front porch? No, I can deal with that. Water in the basement, stinkbugs in the attic, and mice in the crawlspace? No problem. Crackheads moving into our spare bedroom and poltergeists in the closets? Maybe they can contribute, after all it takes a village to raise a child...
On rare occasions, our desires intersect. When they do, and we are powered by a collective covet, it’s best to stay the hell back. Since we’ve had an actual dining room (and perhaps fueled by pictures in every cooking magazine I’ve ever read that show elaborate dinners attended by quirky & beautiful guests sprawled out over expansive tables) I’ve always wanted a table as a centerpiece. The dining room table we were using had history on it’s side – it’s the table I grew up with, eaten countless meals around, instigated and resolved a lifetime of arguments, and sat behind while I’ve told and heard every story worth telling. What I’ve always wanted was something to make our own history with, a table worthy of countless friends, and a new lifetime of arguments, jokes, and a shitload of food. When Sara said (out of the blue) that she wanted a farm table, I was electric.
One thing you have to do in our house is seize the moment. Plans we make tend to get swept under the rug unless they're fought for, so I started fighting. For the next few days I looked everywhere - furniture stores, eBay, and on websites of carpenters and companies from Vancouver to our front door - and as luck would have it, I happened across Stable Tables about 20 miles away from us. John, it turned out, was exactly the guy we were looking for. His place was like Christmas morning - piles of barn wood, salvaged floor joists, and wide planks of birch and red oak strewn across the workshop pulsing with potential energy.
We talked for a while, looked at wood and finishes, had lemonade, played with his dog Butch, and without any pause, I wrote a check. Behind the scenes John started working, and within a couple of weeks he was lugging it into our dining room.
Before I go any further, I know it's just a table, and a lot of you might not really care what your dining room table looks like. It's ok, I don't play golf. I don't give a shit about college basketball, I don't work on my car, and think the movie 'Mamma Mia' sucks. To each his own. But my table... ahh, my table. Perfect. Perfect because of its imperfections. It's rough and uneven, like reclaimed wood should be, full of character from a past life... and this morning, with my some of my family here, it was just what I hoped for... somewhere I wanted to stay and watch the kids dig through plates of fruit and waffles while I'm planning the next meal, and listen to the same stories my parents have told a hundred times. Most of all, a place where I can close my eyes, hear Sara and the kids, and know that I'm home. Sappy, but I don't care, I don't golf.
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