A list of the 50 best restaurants in the world just came out and I can’t believe they again omitted the Jack In The Box down the street from me. Shocking! Maybe its because Jack’s Burger Toppings Bar didn’t feature fresh shaved European white truffles, demi-glace de viande and Snake River Royal White Sturgeon Caviar along side the dried out pickles, limp lettuce and watered down ‘fancy sauce’. Or it could be that they are still using that same scary Grade Z guess-a-meat that caused an E. Coli outbreak a few years ago.
Now my local Jack In The Box might not have been awarded a Michelin Star but I think I once saw a Michelin tire burning in the parking lot while I was sitting in the Drive-Thru line at 2:30 AM debating between the slightly slimy Breakfast Jack sandwich or the flat-out ‘disregard for any self-preservation’ 520 calorie artery-clogging Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich. I mean sometimes you just need two runny eggs, multiple slices of American cheese, fatty ham and greasy bacon all shoved together on a dripping bun sloppily slathered with both butter and mayonnaise. Okay… actually as I think about that… no… I do not think there ever is an actual need for that… unless maybe your prepping for a 6:00 AM colonoscopy while simultaneously recovering from a hangover.
In reality, it’s actually a pretty impressive restaurant list with absolutely no places that serve foods with the word Jack, Slam or Castle in the title. It also is only the second time in that particular list’s history that a U.S. place, Eleven Madison Park, was voted the number one restaurant in the world. You got goose bumps just now, didn’t you? Yeah, it does not affect me much either. Sure, the Wife and I eat out a lot but I don’t think we are jetting up to New York this weekend to drop $500 a head at E.M.P.’s Hampton’s summer pop-up location to scarf down some sea urchin tongue custard and celery root cooked in a pig’s bladder. Is that Jack In Box sandwich sounding better yet?
Okay, I admit it. I wish I could just zip up to eat at Eleven Madison Park. That does not make me a foodie snoot-face, does it? Oh crap, I used that word. I try to keep arm’s distance from the term ‘foodie’ because of the bad images it churns in my brain. Everybody eats food, so to say your hobby is eating is like snobily saying I’m an ‘airy’ because I like to breath clean fresh air. It kinda sounds like a pretentiously lame waste of time to master eating as a hobby. Let’s leave it as, I appreciate fine food but more importantly I just like eating.
Sure, I have been to some remarkable restaurants but I don’t think of myself as a food snob. The last time my Wife and I were in New York we dined at the amazing Bouley restaurant in trendy TriBeCa. “That transcending meal was delicately sublime and exquisite on the palette” but the truth is I’m just as happy standing next to a grubby cart on a city corner snarfing down a couple-a Sabrett dogs with onion sauce and mustard… which we did just a few hours before getting all hoity and toity downtown at David Bouley’s joint which had way more stars and dollar signs next to their Zagat review then there are hot dog buns in a package.
My wife and I also both like to cook but we really do enjoy going out. Trying new places going back to old favorites and even planning road trips around different favorite food stops. I wish that stuff was not so important to me. I would certainly be thinner. My brother Arthur appreciates a good meal but has always seemed to approach food as necessary fuel that should not be fussed over. My buddy Mike has repeatedly said when he was busy he wished he could just pop a food pill and get on with his day.
Just like how I enjoy many different genres of music, I like all manor of food. My high and low brow food desires are equal opportunity. I crave White Castle onion chips just as often as I dream about the foie gras stuffed prunes at Lucia, my favorite 5-star Italian restaurant. I know that Jack In The Box breakfast sandwich is crazy gross but there really are times it is the perfect food.
I admit that I even watch some of those insanely popular food network shows where dining is romanticized to absurd heights. I am not sure when looking at other people eating and describing food that I cannot taste, touch or smell became popular entertainment? In real life It would be torture sitting across from someone detailing every nuance of a remarkable dinner while not letting me have a bite. There is something truly bizarre about all this, but since I love eating I still watch.
So where am I going and what is my point? Unlike my brother, food is important to me. I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m happy, I eat to celebrate, I eat to escape, I eat to socialize and share. It’s a miracle I’m not the size of a house. At the best of times and worst of times, food is always there. I assume there is some societal statement to be made about that or something staggeringly psychologically bad to be said, but with all the other wacky crap floating around the synapses of my wonky brain, is it even worth worrying about?
And what of that restaurant list. Sure, the first thing I did was skim it to see if I had ever been to one of the places. But I can’t help thinking that if everyone’s tastes are different, are those truly the 50 best restaurants in the world for me? I mean, think about how hard it is just getting a group to decide on toppings for a pizza. But the list got me talking, which I guess is the point. Even more importantly, it has made me hungry and this food-lovin’ non-foodie freak needs to figure out what is for dinner. The List.