Saturday, January 19, 2008

Body Double?

A few weeks ago I spotted famed food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, author of the excellent book, "The Man Who Ate Everything." I was wandering around the Union Square Farmer's Market and I came upon a vendor selling sausages. He was cooking up little samples of his product and giving them away on toothpicks. I couldn't help but notice the man standing behind him was Steingarten.

One of my favorite essays in "The Man Who Ate Everything" is the chapter called "Salad, The Silent Killer." It details how fruits ask to be eaten -- they advertise themselves with beautiful colors, sweet fragrances and sugary tastes. Plants use this method to spread their seeds. Leaves, on the other hand, are necessary for the plant's survival and are often designed to dissuade hungry passersby from eating them. They are in many cases even toxic, hence the essay's title.

I wanted Steingarten to know I was aware of his identity and was a fan. As I reached for a morsel of sausage, I said with a smile, "Sausage, the silent killer!" Both he and the vendor stared at me blankly. Trying to prop up my joke, I said, "Like salad..." They both looked annoyed.

I am left to wonder if:
1) My joke was just lame
2) Sausage really is a silent killer and therefore my joke was perceived as a criticism
3) This man was not in fact Steingarten but a look-alike with an uncanny knack of licking his lips in the same distinctive way as the real Steingarten.

I might have otherwise bought some sausage, but I just walked away as fast as I could.


itzktb said...

If I were Steingarten and you made that joke, I would have paused... for just a moment, then I would have laughed or chuckled, shook your hand or all of the above. I would say that the man you saw was either NOT Steingarten, or he's just a ridiculous old curmudgeon!

Tai said...

Jef, I think you had the bad luck to cross paths with the infamous Reginald Steingarten -- twin brother of Jeffrey and author of The Man Who Ate Nothing...Absolutely Nothing.

John said...

Saying sausage is the "silent killer" puts you in the same camp as the food police that have destroyed american pork by breeding out all the fat. It was one of the worst possible things to say to Steingarten.

I know you meant it as a joke, but so many Americans feel the need to make stupid remarks like "heart attack on a plate", or "I can feel my veins clogging as we speak", that they likely took you seriously and found your remark distasteful.


Jeffrey Stock said...

You make an interesting and fair point, John. I know what you mean about people (especially Americans)thinking too much about fat and cholesterol in food. They sometimes miss the point of real natural foods, as nature intended them. Although I would add that nature did not intend pigs and cows to live their lives in small pens growing grotesquely obese and sickly. Personally, I really believe... wait... unh... sharp pain in chest... numbness in arm... I... pork... delicious... Reginald...