I discovered an online source providing menus from American restaurants. I love reading menus, but some are irritating, a lot of different languages and terms and ingredients thrown together. Nippon Nachos? Xacuti Chimichanga? Shishito Quatre? Things served with “nama shoyu.” Wasabi fondue. Teriyaki jus. Yuzu-frites. Espresso aioli. Cocoa nibs. Foie gras churros. Broth trumpets. Sunchoke cream espresso dust. Sunchoke tartare, tomato tartare (why not say raw?). Fluke with chorizo crust, ramps, and groats. Sole with black licorice pil pil. Skate wing with caper same and spechman potato slaw. Crumbled valdeon. Shiitake tark. Pasta kerchief. Beef garbure soup with duck gizzard coco and aleppo oil. Phat beets, smokra, and mean beans. Tempeh bacon. Onion soil. Banyuls dressing. Paper cut salad. Fried mayo. Tomato malasses. Nasturtium buttermilk. Schmaltz croutons. Tako confit. Cauliflower salsa verde. Kimchee aioli. Pilsner butter. Soy ratatouille. Speck popsicles. Tomato raisins. Worcestershire gastrique. The worst: Porridge of sweet potatoes, spigarello, and dirt.
Bill Bryson, I’m a Stranger Here Myself:
“My wife and I went to fancy restaurant in Vermont for our anniversary the other week and I swear I didn’t understand a single thing the waiter described to me.
‘Tonight,’ he began with enthusiasm, ‘we have a crepe galette of sea chortle and kelp in a rich mal de mer sauce, seasoned with disheveled herbs grown in our own herbarium. This is baked in an inverted Prussian helmet for seventeen minutes and four seconds precisely, then layered with steamed wattle and woozle leaves. Very delicious; very audacious. We are also offering this evening a double rack of Rio Rocho cutlets, rendered at your table by our own flamenco dancers, then baked in a clay dong for twenty-seven minutes under a lattice of guava peel and sun-ripened stucco. For vegetarians this evening we have a medley of forest floor sweetmeats gathered from our very own woodland dell.’
And so it goes for anything up to half an hour. My wife, who is more sophisticated than I, is not fazed by the ornate terminology. … She will listen carefully, then say: ‘I’m sorry, is it the squib that’s pan-seared and presented on a bed of organic spoletto?’
‘No, that’s the baked donkling,’ says the serving person. ‘The squib comes as a quarter-cut hank, lightly rolled in payapaya, then tossed with oil of olay and calmine, and presented on a bed of chaff beans and snoose noodles.’
Eventually, he concluded his presentation with what sounded to me like, ‘an oven-baked futilite of pumpkin rind and kumquats.’
I turned to the waiter with a plaintive look. ‘Do you have anything that once belonged to a cow?’ I asked.
He gave a stiff nod. ‘Certainly, sir. We can offer you a 16-ounce supreme de boeuf incised by our own butcher from the fore flank of a corn-fed Holstein raised on our own Montana ranch, then slow-grilled over palmetto and buffalo chips at a temperature of …’
‘Are you describing a steak?’ I asked, perking up.
‘Not a term we care to use, sir, but yes.’
Of course. It was all becoming clear now. There was real food to be had here if you just knew the lingo. ‘Well, I’ll have that,’ I said. ‘And I’ll have it with, shall we say, a depravite of potatoes, hand cut and fried till golden in a medley of vegetable oils from the Imperial Valley, accompanied by a quantite de biere, flash-chilled in your own coolers and conveyed to my table in a cylinder of glass.’
The man nodded, impressed that I had cracked the code.”