Friday, February 06, 2009

Putting things into perspective

Last night Scott and I were wandering downtown after a couple drinks and some comic book shopping, and stopped into a new little French bistro for dinner. We took a seat in the half-full Chez Joly and ordered up a few items from the modestly-priced menu, had a glass of wine and a pleasant chat with the maître'd for a minute about business and whatnot. I gave him my card and assured him I don't review restaurants (I don't, really).

One thing that struck me as a little odd was that the place was only half-full, on first Thursday, in the Pearl. One of the owners (M. Joly himself) came to greet us and apologized for the loudness. It wasn't busy enough to be considered loud by anyone under 70, and it seemed to me that he was really coddling this image of a bustling bistro when in fact, it was kind of a sad little place that reeked of trying too hard. For the price point, I would've preferred a little more grit, more tattoos on the staff, and any music other than the soundtrack of La Vie En Rose.

Conversely, I'd happily have paid $10 more for any of the items if they had been prepared more thoughtfully. The duck was a skosh past medium-well and any flavor remaining after the skin was removed was obliterated by the surfeit of pink peppercorns dashed across the dish. The moules frites Scott ordered were fantastic, though, and worth it alone. They arrived propped on hunks of baguette, ready to sop up the sexy bivalve liquor and wine broth. The escargots were similarly pleasant, though the pâte (a rillette of chicken liver with pistachios) was unremarkable.

It occurred to me on the way home, my stomach stretched in painful distention, that I can afford to bitch that my fancy dinner in a French bistro wasn't good enough. Somewhere along my life's path, I became some entitled cunt who looks down her nose at frites that aren't shoestring-thin. I wasn't always this way. (There is a point that I'm going to make, here, I promise.)

When I was a kid, as I've mentioned myriad times, I lived in poverty. My family received every form of government assistance offered, and our meals frequently came from the Oregon Food Bank when the food stamps couldn't be stretched all month. The Oregon Food Bank, unlike many other family aid non-profits and food banks, is not affiliated with any church and does not proselytize the recipients of their services. They just feed hungry people. With the downturn in the economy, requests for emergency food are skyrocketing to record levels, and they need your help.

In the name of staying true to my roots, and maintaining whatever shred of street cred I have left, I've decided to participate in the Blog For Food campaign (in addition to making a donation myself). Please click the logo at the top of this page or any of the links I've inlined in this post and make a donation.

To be part of the official Blog For Food tally, please enter "Blog For Food" in the tribute section on the OFB donation page. Donations may also be mailed to the Oregon Food Bank at PO. Box 55370Portland, OR 97238-5370. Please mention "Blog For Food." The campaign will run from February 1 to February 28, 2009. They're trying to raise (a modest) $5000.

Thanks, you guys! Just think, your donation today may help another precocious little girl grow up to be a snarky food blogger like me.


Rilkean Heart said...

Hey Heather!

OK girl, I just dropped a not phat enough twomp and some change on your well deserving charity. But git dis, I'mma get my company to charity match it, double the funds y'all....double the funds.

(Oooh child, I know about gov'ment cheese. That sh*t confused the hell out of these Asian folk back in the day. Big props to all the people/orgs that have helped other people/families get through the hard times!)

T.A.O said...

Aww what a nice post. My love for cheese came from back in the USDA days when they served it up in the big brown box at the food bank.

Today, I am fortunate enough to be a snarky cheese snob but I always remember where it began. ( :

Go you!

glamah16 said...

My Mom, used to help run and organize food banks as a social worker.I saw as a kid all typoes of peopel and families . You never know when any of us can be in this situation. Thoughtful post.

abadeeba said...

"I gave him my card and assured him I don't review restaurants (I don't, really)."

What card did you give him? I can't imagine... fill me in... What sort of fancy card do you carry with you?

we are never full said...

it's a real interesting point you've made here - whether you've been on food stamps or struggled to pay bills, it is important for all of us "foodie c*nts" remember that we should be lucky to be eating. it's so true.

as a school counselor working at a very low-income school in brooklyn, 98% of my students are on free lunch and the majority of them are also living below the poverty line. they are my inspiration in so many ways because everytime i want to complain about my small apartment in a nice neighborhood, my lack of a dishwasher and/or washing machine or my inability to fit all of my "gourmet goods" in my tiny cabinets, I think about what I fucking DO have - which is a shitload compared to most. anyways, i'm going to donate. thanks for the thought-provoking shit and all. you're a sweetheart underneath all the rough stuff.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This is a great post, Heather, and a great cause. I'll be back with credit card in hand some time in the next few days.

The Spiteful Chef said...

I love you as an entitled cunt. But I'll give some money regardless, since I think even the most impoverished of families should periodically get to enjoy moules frites.

Jess said...

You're dead right, girl. Thanks for the reminder. And the Capital Area Food Bank (DC) has you to thank for my ducets.

Emily said...

This was a nice post. That's very kind of you to make a donation. This makes sense to me more than a lot of charities.