Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Demonstrated educational value

I flew into Atlanta today to attend a conference. Aside from a few networking events this evening, the bulk of the conference doesn't start until tomorrow morning. And yet I'm already learning. Here's what I've picked up so far:

1. If you have to ask how the chicken is going to be prepared, you're clearly not from around here. The woman sitting next to me at tonight's dinner made that mistake, and the waiter looked at her as if she'd just asked if he could help her calculate the sum of 1 + 1. Clearly, it seemed to him an easy question with only one possible answer... but then why would she be asking? Unless she was trying to trick him! Yes, that must be it! Finally, he ventured a timid answer: "Fraaaahd?" (which is my best attempt at spelling "fried" with a drawl). Because, really, is there ANY OTHER POSSIBLE WAY to cook a chicken?

2. The whole point of fried chicken is the skin. As I usually do, I daintily peeled off the skin and placed it in a neat pile before eating my chicken. When the waiter came to remove my plate, he looked at the crispy pile of skins and shot me a look of utter disbelief. My mother once told me about her first meal in a fancy restaurant, where she experienced prawns for the first time. She liked them very much, though she found them to be a little rough on the throat on the way down. When her waiter came to remove her plate, he wondered out loud what she'd done with the tails. Befuddled, my mother replied, "I ate them." I'm positive my waiter was no less shocked at my refusal to eat fried flesh than my mom's waiter was at her consumption of tails. To placate him, I took a quick bite and emphatically nodded my approval. And I have to admit, it was some damn fine skin.

3. Standard portion control is not observed here. I was served three - THREE - enormous pieces of fried chicken with my meal. Those at the dinner who chose the ribs were treated to something roughly the size of the dinosaur ribs that tipped the car at the beginning of every Flintstones episode. In comparison, the accompanying sides of mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables were disarmingly dainty.

My first official session is tomorrow morning at 8:00 with Maya Angelou. Given the speaker, I'm confident that this learning streak will continue and, if I'm lucky, will continue to revolve entirely around food.

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