Vicarious Eating

“You are not going to talk about what you are eating for dinner next weekend, again, are you?” asked the assistant manager with whom I now always work the door in the evenings since the latest host vanished, leaving just the two of us.

“I am, and I will, until I decide what I am eating,” I said, very serious, because I am obsessed with next Sunday night’s dinner in D.C., on so many levels–personal and practical.

The practical: I am always hungry. I rarely feel full. I am also blessed with a great metabolism that allows me to eat sizable quantities of food. Would that I had the time now to eat those quantities.

I fully admit, that as I have aged, my great metabolism has slowed somewhat. A few years ago, when I sat all day in an office, a few pounds snuck up and parked themselves mostly on my mid section. I was fine with this, because I still ate everything in sight and compensated by walking to or from work, and so I stopped thinking much about it.

Then I went to work in a restaurant. I was surrounded by food all day, everyday–plates of burgers and hand-cut fries on trays being delivered to guests, hefty chicken salads topped with crumbles of fresh cheese and ripe tomatoes sitting pretty on a table, sizzling steaks and perfectly pink salmon beckoning pick-up on the line, and so many platters of chilled shrimp, oysters and clams being served at the bar.

Writing about it makes my stomach growl. Because I am famished at this late hour, as I always am, all day, all night, every day and night that I work.

Want to lose 10 quick pounds? Go to work in a restaurant, preferably a busy one. You will describe and suggest so many variations of stuff on your menu that your head will spin. But you will taste very little of it as you walk literal miles within the confines of your restaurant to seat or serve your guests the food you are not eating.

Working a double now and then, or more often than not? Bye bye dress size. Feeling a little stressed due to personal issues, too? See ya expensive jeans that used to be tight and now are hideously baggy and refuse to shrink in the dryer.

“So I went shopping today,” I told this assistant manager. “I finally have clothes that fit.”

“You spent too much money, didn’t you?” he asked in his protective way, because he and I are “no longer spring chickens and have to think about the future” as he puts it, and he worries about me, although I feel far younger than him and worry about myself even less.

“I spent money on quality clothing that fits!” I laughed. “Geez, who are you, my mother?”

“Well, you do look very nice tonight,” he said, then smiled. “Not that you don’t always look nice, you know?”

Nice recovery, as if I didn’t know. I know I look like a D.C. transplant trying to be stylish in South Florida. I know I don’t always make it happen, because I am so not South Florida despite my attempts to not care about exposed cleavage and tight everything. But it’s work, not a date, you know? So I aim to hit a happy medium. Okay, I am happy with just the medium. Happy everything else will follow, so they tell me.

“Thanks!” I smiled, because I am practicing to accept a compliment, any compliment.

“So where you going out to eat next weekend?” asked this assistant manager who really wants to know, even though he claimed he was tired of hearing about it.

“I want steak, a perfect medium-rare ribeye. I want lobster, real steamed Maine lobster and tons of drawn butter,” I gushed, imagining how it would all taste. “And a huge baked potato and sauteed spinach.” Because I am starving on this quiet night. I had eaten a handful of potato chips after having thrown out the egg-and-cheese corn tortilla things I cooked up for breakfast, because the cheese tasted bad, even though it was a new package and it didn’t look bad.

I had promised to take myself out to lunch at a comparable competitor’s spot, but I spent too much time shopping for clothing two sizes down from what I wore three months ago, and I never had time to eat a damn thing. I shoved more potato chips into a plastic snack bag to eat in the car en route to work. I tried to eat the family meal salad, but the AV guys had not shown up to deliver a screen and cart for a private event, something I was supposed to have taken care of, and I felt so sick to my stomach that it wasn’t delivered on time as the dinner’s hosts arrived 90 minutes early, that I didn’t eat more than a few bites then, either.

As a result, I was starving all night during tonight’s shift. And I couldn’t shut up about the food I wanted to eat. It was contagious, as it turned out. The assistant manager described his ideal meal, and allowed as how the only way to eat a certain cut of pasta was with “a drizzle of the best olive oil, fresh grated pecorino romano and a dash of red pepper flakes.”

I added that garlic and maybe artichoke hearts would help. He agreed, as would a side plate of tomatoes and basil and oil and vinegar and fresh ground pepper. I suggested a nice chocolate souffle would top the whole thing off as dessert. He wondered if I could eat a souffle, given the gluten issue. Our GM got into the act at this point, and said, no, any souffle was off limits to me because he knew for a fact the ingredient list included flour–at least, he was pretty sure of that.

One of the servers hanging around the podium almost swooned over the idea of our imaginary meal, because we couldn’t stop building upon it, course by course, ingredient by ingredient.

At the end of the shift, however, I had only nibbled on a handful of stale cashews and asked for but not been quick enough to get some leftover mashed potatoes from Chef. When I got home, I cooked up some corn pasta for tomorrow and ate the little that wouldn’t fit in the storage container, shoving it in my mouth with all the manners of a wild child.

The personal: I am going to D.C. this coming Sunday for one night. I want to eat steak and lobster and feel so full I am sated for days. But I also need to talk about so many things with Mr. Restaurant Gal, and I don’t know that an expense-account fine-dining steakhouse is the place to accomplish that.

On the other hand, I so crave a moment to be served, to eat without a care. I have a feeling Mr. Restaurant Gal might understand and willingly indulge me this, because he knows me pretty well, after all.

On the other, other hand, any steakhouse in D.C. I’d like to go is closed on Sundays, come to think of it. Hmmm.






11 responses to “Vicarious Eating”

  1. Lisa Avatar

    It all sounds wonderful! The food, that is, not the “talk about so many things.” Enjoy what you can and safe travels.

  2. Katie Avatar

    Those meals sound so yummy!

  3. Barb in DC Avatar
    Barb in DC

    Ray’s the Steaks in Arlington is open on Sundays. They don’t take reservations, but if you get there around 5 pm, you can put your name on the list for later in the evening. There’s no lobster served there, but great scallops and shrimp and some of the best crab bisque in the world. You won’t find better steak at any price anywhere in this area. Sunday night at RTS is also the night for “A Place at the Table” whereby you get a three course dinner and $10 of it goes to charity. You can choose to spend $25, $30, or $35 depending on which entry you choose.

    This is a real no-brainer.

  4. joeinvegas Avatar

    Mmmmm – steak and lobster and potato and . . .

  5. Ex-Restaurant Manager Avatar

    From those of us with low metabolism, I now like you at a lower level than before. Good thing that level was pretty high to begin with 😉

  6. Brave Astronaut Avatar

    [drooling], lobbbbbsssssttttteeerrr
    [drooling}, sttttteeeeeaaaaakkkkkk

  7. Kim Ayres Avatar



    It’s so much more than just fuel

  8. Mr. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Mr. Restaurant Gal

    Now, about that ‘huge baked potato(e)’: I know you haven’t forgotten, but in the spirit of sharing…

    – Scrub a large russet potato clean, and let it stand to dry completely.
    – Pierce 4 times with a fork to create steam vents.
    – Pour a good bit of regular (not EV) olive oil on your palm (about 2-3cm worth) and rub on the skin of the potato.
    – Sprinkle kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper on all sides of the coated skin.
    – Roast in a 375° convection oven, or a 400° regular oven for 45-60 minutes, until the skin is crispy and the potato has some ‘give’ to it.
    – Serve while hot as Hades, with butter, sour cream, and anything else of which your doctor would disapprove.

    Not that I’m trying to whet your appetite or anything.

  9. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Mr. Restaurant Gal–I do believe you are flirting with me!

  10. jali Avatar

    Great to see who’s commenting here!

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