JUST TO LET YOU KNOW… I was about three and a half weeks behind the rest of the world in real time television but now I’m happy to report I finally caught up on the finale of Top Chef: Kentucky. After sixteen seasons I still enjoy hearing Padma Lakshmi tell aspiring chefs one by one who have fallen short as culinary cremé de la crémes to “please pack your knives and go.”
Tom Colicchio, renowned food aficionado and fellow judge to Padma has perfected the dissection and deconstruction of every gourmet plate with his honest, albeit brutal commentary. Competition heats up in the kitchen as tensions rise above a boil, but the real pressure cooker is at judge’s table when critiques are based on details so finely chopped that winners and losers are nearly separated by the nittiest, grittiest, teeniest and tiniest of splices and dices so specific that an extra pinch of cumin or the slightest lack of coriander is all it takes for a cook’s amuse-bouche to quickly become an amuse-bust according to the palates of the expert panel.
For you non-foodies out there, an amuse-bouche is a simple, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre that is selected by a chef for his or her patron’s consumption prior to serving the real meal. An amuse-bouche is not an item found on the menu and therefore is considered to be somewhat of a special glimpse into the chef’s style of cuisine to come. The literal translation of the french word, amuse-bouche, means mouth amuser. The unpolished translation of the french word amuse-bouche however, means the minuscule bite is so small there is nothing amusing about it, which is why I typically refer the phrase to it’s better known unpolished counter-part, an amuse-douche.
Here are some simple, bite-sized amuse-bouches of unpolished amuse-douches:
- The medicine dropper sip sized consume at Neiman Marcus is an amuse-douche because it’s basically clear broth compromised of 100% sodium. The douche factor isn’t that the broth is so good it leaves you wanting more; the douche factor is having to ask for three extra popovers in order to soak up all the salt consumed in one simple sip. What would be amusing is if the chef served the consume alongside fifty milligrams of Losartan to keep your blood pressure from spiking!
- The only thing better than eating out for breakfast is getting served the complimentary plate of pastries before ordering your meal. Well, except in the unpolished case when the amuse-bouche quickly turns to an amuse-douche because the plate of pastries ends up being the two-day old sponge cake no one else was willing to pay for. What happened to serving the succulent rainbow cookies and moist brownies? Stale marble cake is an epic douche move.
- Servers who greet their tables by talking in the third person are amuse-douchey. There’s nothing that amuses me less than a stranger who starts the verbal interaction with, “How are we?” When this happens, my mood shifts to the opposite of amused. “We were fine but now we’re not. We are hungry and we want to order. Can we start with getting some cake that isn’t dry and old? Can we do that?” The server quickly realizes we are annoyed with his pompous third party greeting when I remind him that unless he’s Big Bird talking to his invisible friend Snuffleupagus, I’m the only one dining.
- Since we’re kinda on the topic of restaurant restitution or the unpolished lack of, this would be a good time to add the enormous douche factor of the server who tries to get it right but just doesn’t. “I’ll have the chicken sandwich with the side salad; I don’t need the chips but please, I beg of you, no onions.” In my opinion this isn’t such a hard ask. He had one job to do. The job was to listen. Clearly basic listening is harder than I thought given the meal arrives and the plate is bathing in onions. “Um, excuse me, Douche? I am not amused.”
- Little is less amusing than self serve at a salad bar or coffee house only to then be face to face with a real life person manning the cash register on the way out. He or she appears just in time for the screen to swivel around as you’re asked, “Would you like to leave a tip?” You’ve essentially prepared the entire meal from start to finish on your own, and yet somehow you’re made to feel embarrassed by not tacking on an additional twenty percent. Who’s more of a douche in this scenario: the cashier for asking even though he/she has done nothing worthy of a tip or you for succumbing to the pressure and leaving the twenty percent?
- You can always count on office colleagues to participate in celebratory holidays no matter how weird or made up they are. For instance, I love seeing the spirited team dressed in green on St. Patrick’s Day and I’m always pleasantly surprised to be offered a homemade chocolate covered treat on none other than National Pretzel Day. These are holidays I can appreciate and get behind. What I can’t get behind are the employees who insist on celebrating National Bring Your Germs To Work Day. Do you think I want to say God bless you or God damn you after you’ve sneezed in and around my work space six times in a row? Go home douche! Rest up and drink some consume.