As he disappears, I turn to my wife. "The best pork chop in the world?"
Before replying, Jessica, as if to properly consider the matter, sips her cocktail. She is drinking some colorful thing with a name that has more than one syllable. Women, I've noticed, are drawn to multisyllabic drinks. Cosmopolitans. Margaritas. Men prefer one-syllable drinks. Beer. Scotch. And they prefer it old, like they prefer their shoes, and brown, like their furniture.
"How good can a pork chop be?" she wonders.
I draw on my middle-school-aged brown liquid.
Lately I have found that eating at a nice restaurant has become extremely complicated. Waiters don't just tell you the specials or answer questions. They like to regale you with the pedigree of the ingredients and remind you how lucky you are that you have come to this establishment this evening, where the chef is justly famous and the restaurant is remarkable.
This particular restaurant is owned by a celebrity TV chef. We are visiting from out of town and sought it out after a local chowhound recommended it. "The best restaurant in town," she'd raved.
So here we are, at a hotshot's fancy restaurant, thinking about ordering a pork chop.
Now, I like pork chops as much as the next guy. But, I mean, come on, it's a pork chop. I don't care how well traveled it is. And this was a well-traveled pork chop. Our waiter recited its ancestral journey from Europe to North America and over to Asia.
He also elaborated, with puffed-out pride, about the other dishes as well. The duck, he said, was smoked for three full days. This, I know, was meant to seem impressive. But three days? Isn't that just showing off? My duck smokes longer than your duck? It is a duck, after all. A small little bird. A wildebeest, I could see. But a duck? Even though the poor little guy was already expired, it seemed like a cruel and unusual thing to do to it.