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.