Certain places are bigot-magnets: newspaper comment sections, neighborhood-themed social media sites, and uber-fancy restaurants. I called one up to get the 411 on their grub. I’ll go by the name Customer to protect my dignity . . .
Customer: . . . what if I’m not super hungry? Can I just order an appetizer? How much is the famous Squid-Lather on Wood Chips?
Concierge: At this time, we do not know any of the prices of our menu items.
Customer: When will you find out? Also, can I bring my own wood chips?
Concierge: You are aware we have been awarded Fancy Restaurant Stars™, correct?
Customer: Are you saying you have Stars Upon Thars*?
Concierge: What? To proceed with a reservation request, I will need the last four of your social. We require direct access to an open line of credit.
Customer: Okay, can you give me a guesstimate on the price of a meal?
Concierge: We cannot begin to guess how much our meals will cost—we can never know how much purveyors of foodstuffs will charge on any given day. It is impossible for us to gather information of this sort.
Customer: But I thought you grew your own vegetables on an adjacent farm.
Concierge: Exactly! Yes. We are the original, most phenomenal farm-to-table-restaurant. For that reason, we can never know about costs of foods. Everything we serve is too local for pricing. Many factors come into play. Suppose there is a ferocious storm? Chef would have to go out into the rain. Can he harvest a celery root or forage for dandelions while holding an umbrella? Don’t be ridiculous.
We are managing the cost of the assistants, the umbrellas—all these behind-the-scenes-unknowns!
But we promise to present your bill in an adorable way. A charming little tailor will embroider the sum onto the hem of your trousers—YOU WON’T EVEN NOTICE HIM UNDER YOUR TABLE! Ha-ha! He’s absolutely darling! And now your pants are a special keepsake.
Customer: Okay, sign me up. Can you give me best directions from Oakland?
Concierge: (pauses) . . . you can’t get here from there.
*”Stars Upon Thars” is a reference from the famous Dr. Seuss Book, the Sneetches and Other Stories – a powerful reminder of the economic and egoic harm wrought by pretentiousness and class divisions.
Farm-to-table used to mean you were on a farm, eating, at a table. Omitting prices on menus broadcasts one message: if you are wondering how much it costs to eat here, you can’t afford it. This is systemic inequality at its most insidious—openly hidden! So, the next time you’re hankering for a red-carpet dessert, save yourself the guesswork and make this one at home.
Fancy Restaurant Peaches, Decolonized
- 2 peaches, sliced lengthwise and pitted
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons + one teaspoon Piloncillo or dark brown sugar, divided
- ½ cup chopped, toasted almonds
- 2 tablespoons almond meal or flour
- 1 tablespoon Mezcal (the smoky kind)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice (about ¼ of a fresh lime)
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ pint heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Lightly toast ½ cup almonds for 3-6 minutes in the oven as it is heating up (or on the stove-top, in a pan). Don’t burn those almonds. After toasting, chop.
- Mix 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons Piloncillo, ½ cup chopped almonds, 2 tablespoons almond meal, 1 tablespoon Mezcal, ¼ teaspoon chili flakes and ¼ teaspoon salt into a paste.
- Whip cream with 1 teaspoon Piloncillo and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Chill.
- Slice 2 peaches in half, lengthwise, remove pits.
- Place 4 peach halves on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
- Fill peach halves with prepared paste.
- Place baking sheet in the 400º oven for 6-8 minutes, then turn oven off and turn the broiler on.
- Broil 2-5 minutes until lightly charred/browned on top.
- Remove from oven. Drizzle a squeeze of fresh lime juice over each peach half.
- Cool 5 minutes.
- Top with whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream!)
- Finish with a pinch of pretty chili flakes over the cream.