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Monday, December 5, 2005

Various Restaurant Menus Explain Themselves

Pietra Fria (Italian)
Italy is known for its warmth and rich food. You will not find those here. Our cuisine comes from Asperghia, a remote hill town nestled high in the Dolomites. Our people are indomitable, and our unique cuisine, as well as the profession of banditry, is handed down from father to son. We do not serve wine, for at an altitude of 3500 meters, grapevines would perish. Olive oil we steal from trade caravans that dare traverse our mountain passes. Enjoy our rock stew, flavored with lichen, or perhaps the tender marmot, roasted on an open flame, with a bouquet of avalanche.

The Maple Leaf (Canadian)
Our restaurant used to be the Ragged Glory, a beloved joint serving typical American food. Changing hands has spawned protests and a firebombing (no casualties!), and the Ragged Glory’s been renamed as the Maple Leaf, the child of two recent immigrants to the Land of the Free. She’s from Vancouver, he’s from Montreal, and if you think it’s Franco-English tension you smell, you’re wrong: that’s our caribou stew! You’ll find that Canadian food is very similar to American food, except with a self-deprecating sense of humor, kind of like if Woody Allen made smelts instead of movies. The old bacon cheeseburger has become the back bacon cheeseburger. Our fresh maple syrup comes from the forests of Ontario, rather than Vermont. If you are not satisfied, we will make you an American meal at no extra charge.

The Corn Palace (Mexican)
Time and again, our customers ask: Why don’t we serve burritos? It is here we answer: Burritos are a border food, and we assure you that, although tasty, nothing wrapped in foil could possibly be gourmet. Named after a donkey, the burrito belies our rich cultural heritage. We have created several new sauces, including our newest mole, the chocolate-axolotl. On our flautas we use homemade corn tortillas, which are the tortillas of affliction. You may also notice that we only provide bottled water for sale. This is to protest the draining of the Colorado River, which is no more than a muddy sludge when it arrives past your burrito-devouring border.

The Institute for Belgian Cuisine
It is imperative for you, the diner, to know that Belgium is the source of soi-disant French fries. We have our own word for them, but it is Flemish and thus unpronounceable. To tease your pallet, we offer mussels in garlic broth, and our famous beer, which isn’t very good, but is so expensive that people always claim to like it so as not to appear foolish. For dessert, we offer our trademark waffles, which developed legal Belgian status at the Treaty of Ghent (1657). Menu substitutions are possible, as long as they meet the approval of the head chef and a two-thirds majority of diners, unless the current number of eating participants does not make the established quorum of five diners, in which case approval requires unanimous consent.

The Lodgepole (vegan)
The special for the evening is our signature entree, braised fennel, cohabiting with a commune of saffron-kissed fava beans. The beans and the fennel were grown on local organic farms, where an up-and-coming singer-songwriter performed daily on a handcrafted twelve-string guitar. Just before harvest, the vegetables attended a grief-counseling session with his holiness, Bob Lama. Perhaps a dark spot on the menu will catch your eye: the presence of veal medallions. This dish is neither tofu nor seitan, but actual baby cow. Our new chef, Bertrand LeMieux, who trained at the Culinary Institute, thought we were joking when we told him this was a vegan establishment. Bertrand has been given a few days off, and we hope he will learn a real lesson while hog-tied in the basement and exposed to the videos we lent him, specifically “The Cruelty-free Myth”, and “Seitan: Enemy of the Steak”.

Tofu Tenango (fusion)
Chef Maître Xia Fong Hernandez had a troubled youth. He was a member of the Latino gang M-13. The secret ingredient (tofu) of his delicious chimichangas betrayed his Asian heritage, and he was beaten, expelled from the gang and left for dead. His damaged body was discovered by a group of Australian Buddhist monks, who elucidated the central conflict of existence that is present in his cooking today, and in whose memory he wears a rugby shirt instead of the traditional double-breasted jacket. The fusion is a mix between Asia and Latin America, both a troubled past and a bright future, and the bold pairing of spices that will anger your palette. Try our wasabi-encrusted jalapeño poppers, which may remind you of the long lost Asian-South American land bridge.

G. Xavier Robillard lives with his family in Oregon. For a living, he programs man-eating robots. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, both in print and online. His lifelong goal is to collect every color of guayabera. You can see more of his work at All Day Coffee.