vernal equinox 17:24 EDT

On Sunday afternoon I remembered an old news story about the most exclusive restaurant in the USA. Some news story said it was in NYC and, despite their crazy reservation wait time, one could buy the joint's spaghetti sauce for a princely sum. So I googled and Google reminded me of Damon Baehrel, a guy who runs a small restaurant in upstate New York claiming (as of 2016) to have a decade-long wait list. The mythmaking behind the man and the restaurant is he sources everything locally, uses sap and pine needles along with more conventional ingredients.




White people adjectives that convey a moral obligation while also impressing upon the customer how all of the ingredients are superior to those used by your local greasy spoon or some Michelin-starred restaurant. While reading through Nick Paumgarten's piece (linked above, gentle reader) I stumbled upon two unusual things about Mr. Baehrel and his enterprise. Words to assuage the guilt of wealthy people who have too much money they could nary spend it all in the course of vigintillions of aeons, hoarded away from the less fortunate who remain in desperate poverty slaving in their factories. "I may pay a pittance to my employees, but I am showering this artiste, this genius with a handsome sum of money which trickles down to his rustic suppliers who want for little else in life. The ones who listen to NPR kiss their ass, give lip-service to social issues while living in fear of the unwashed masses living from paycheck-to-paycheck who may demand a return to Francis Delano Roosevelt's socialism. Or worse... European socialism.

No one can get into and see the kitchen. Apparently it's a no-brainer for other restaurants to allow patrons, or covers, to take a peek at where the food is made. Also Baehrel has an adult son who is severely disabled. Since I've been listening to H.P. Podcraft a lot of late, more than 500 episodes exist over the past decade, my thoughts immediately turned to horror. Or cosmic horror.
Let's keep things simple. A man prepares sumptuous meals for his legendary tasting menu in a tiny restaurant capable of seating only 16 people at a time. The restaurant is out in the boonies. The kitchen is off-limits. "What is he hiding?" is the obvious question which isn't answered because everyone is dazzled by Damon's fare. Why look a gift horse in the mouth, ĉu ne?
Shit is wild, yo.

There were other nagging matters: a supposed visit from the comedian Aziz Ansari (which Ansari denied), a laudatory quote attributed to the Per Se chef Thomas Keller (which Keller disclaimed). There was one guest who, on one of those nights when Baehrel said he had another party coming, realized, after leaving, that he’d left something behind. He had to drive back and climb over the gate to get in. The house was dark. Baehrel was cleaning up: no sign of the late seating. Steinman looked into suppliers in the area and couldn’t find any who were serving Baehrel. I, too, called an array of food suppliers. None were doing business with Baehrel. One said that he used to sell him cheese and charcuterie but hadn’t in years.

Shit is weird, yo.

"The whole element in this day and age of putting everything out there—it’s a different generation," Baehrel told me. "We like to keep to ourselves and leave a little bit to the imagination."

Baehrel also claims he's had some people come to his restaurant, but when those people are tracked down and asked they deny ever having been there which leads to articles making retractions about the proprietor's claims. Reservations are made through someone named Terrance, Damon's wife is unseen, the suppliers are anonymous, and the mystery just seems to build from there.
The following is a bit problematic and hopefully, for the sake of posterity (if there is any posterity for me), I am acknowledging this so the 22nd century's equivalent of social justice warriors will not savage my corpse. Damon has a severely disabled son. Who also had a son with deformities, and perhaps disabilities, keeping the scion from prying eyes? Lavinia Whateley of The Dunwich Horror. Her son Wilbur is deformed but can pass without arousing horror from regular people. The Dunwich Horror, on the other hand, is kept under wraps until the end of Lovecraft's yarn.
Oh to imagine the noisesome acts perpetuated in that dark kitchen, plucking and harvesting queer greens under starlight, mingling those culinary treasures with more prosaic ingredients for something... well... out of this world. Imagine a fictional Damon Baehrel-type character who impregnated an avatar of Shub-Niggurath who begat a son who is kept sheltered. Shub-Niggurath, being a dark fertility deity, would ensure the area around his farm would be worryingly abundant but only as long as the chef stayed on the land and cared for their child-who-should-not-be.

And then a journalist shows up to see what the fuss is all about, along with hints of what happens away from prying eyes.

Also in a culinary vein, Leah and I used to watch Chopped together. It's a game show where four chefs go head to head to prove who has the right stuff as a chef, and the ones who lose a round are 'chopped'. I told Leah I had a morbid idea where contestants who are 'chopped' wind up being the protein portion of the next round's mystery basket. The kicker is in the final round where a dressed former contestant from the last round is revealed from under a cloche with the host exhorting the contestants to make a meal choosing any cut from the body while the judges look on with unwholesome hunger.

Of course there's lots of disturbing banter among the show's judges. Uncertain if the 'star course' is alive or was slaughtered off-camera during a commercial break.

Or, less problematically, a chef like Baehrel is in the witness protection program. He truly is self-taught. Self-taught from working in prison commissaries. Then someone sees through the ruse and deign to bring the chef's past back to life, along with the repercussions from misdeeds.

a dream from 3/20/2015

I'm at a carnival, and a booth is requesting samples of my brain. The shadowy woman behind the counter hands me a small ice cream scoop, the business end about the size of a pea, and instructs me to place it up my nose, give it a twist, then give her the sample. "We need gray, blue, and pink matter. So don't be shy" she chides as I obediently take out little scoops of my brain.

Wait? Pink matter? Blue matter?

Is this going through the bone of my sinus into my brain? Is it going to heal up? What about infection?

All these panicky questions rouse me.

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