hummus is poor man’s butter, and other important things like POETRY TUESDAY!

7 Feb

Last night I invited Charlie over for taco night but he told me that he couldn’t come because he was starting a carb-free diet so he could get buff for spring break in Vegas and he didn’t want to feel tempted to eat the tortillas. So logically, he went to dinner with his dad at a local Italian place, because nothing is less tempting than being surrounded by fettuccine, garlic knots, bruschetta and lasagna while trying to eliminate flour from one’s diet. Upon hearing where silly Charlie went, I spoke the first thing that came to my mind.

“I hate that place because they give you hummus instead of butter with the bread basket and that’s just stupid.”

Honestly? If you don’t judge a restaurant on the free snacks they provide for you, then you are either completely lying or you have an eating disorder. On the many nights that Harry and I spend up to five hours deciding where to eat dinner, the bread basket comes into account no less than 100% of the time.

“Should we get Mexican?”

“Eh, I don’t like the salsa at the local place.”

“What about Chinese?”

“UGH those chips are SOOOO fattening!” (This actually does occur to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I eat Chinese food, even though I am simultaneously shoving an eggroll and unidentifiable meat covered in yummy sweet sauce in my mouth)


“Which place?”

“The one with the good bread basket.”

“It was stale last time… Great. We took so long now everything is going to be closed.”

“What about takeout from the diner? And on the way back I’ll stop and pick up some cheese biscuits from Red Lobster.” (I think you and I both know these are the Mac Daddy of them all)


I am unfortunately not exaggerating the last segment of our conversation.

In honor of Charlie and his unnecessary diet (Remember, Charlie? My mom said you look better than ever. I’d totally think she was hitting on you but you’re not her type.) I have compiled a list of my very favorite free restaurant snacks:

  1. Pumpernickel Bread – This special, special treat comes around only once in a while. In fact, the last time I munched on a true slice of pumpernickel pre-meal was at this bar in Syracuse (with the greatest salad in the history of the world, unless I had beer goggles on for that, too, because I definitely made some questionable decisions in college that I can attribute only to being drunk or hungover but I really do think it was a good salad unless the avocado wasn’t ripe yet, which sometimes happened). The closest I have come to this bread is at Outback, but their butter is too soft, and Cheesecake Factory, but I have trouble deciding between the sourdough and the brown bread, and it gives me a headache.
  2. Popcorn – Harry and I were ski bums for exactly one day this winter, and on that day we apres skied at some shithole wing place with the BEST popcorn. You served yourself and there was a thing of salt chained to the popcorn maker and we refilled our little container like 25 times and we danced to the POP POP POPPING soundtrack in the room. Ok we didn’t dance. Well at least Harry didn’t. I was way too excited to not dance just a little. Ok fine I couldn’t even stand up because I am a shitty skier. But I bopped to the pops so whatever. Some people enjoy peanuts more than popcorn but I don’t like having to work for my free snack.
  3. Tortilla Chips with Black Bean Dip – I’m only writing this because it’s what we serve at my restaurant, and it is therefore the most perfect way to start a meal that there ever could be. My favorite part about the dip is the questionable color. Do you know how many fights I’ve broken up between family members who insist that it is off-color guacamole? More than fifteen. And seven of them were extremely violent.
  4. Cole Slaw & Pickles – Jews are so smart. We don’t want to overwhelm the palate and/or belly with heavy breads and butters before our meal of an overstuffed pastrami sandwich on rye. Instead, we start with sides, that way when the actual meal comes, we can have more sides and it will be completely justified because it was actually an appetizer. I like the pickles that look and taste like cucumbers, and I get extremely angry if I’m with someone who doesn’t have a preference and they grab that one and not the dill one. So in case we’re ever at the Jewish deli, stay the fuck away from my New Style Pickles. Also I like to dip my fries in the cole slaw juice so leave some of that while you’re at it.
  5. Hot Towels – This is not a food, but Charlie is Asian and I don’t want to leave out one of his cuisines. Plus I really do like them, except last time we were at the Sushi place they tried to give one to Riley and I was like “Really? She’s 1.”
  6. Garlic Knots – Unless they’re stale, and then why bother? This applies to all bread.  I will literally not return to your restaurant if you give me stale bread. Additionally, I will tell all of my friends that the food was terrible and I saw a cockroach, even if that didn’t happen. Now that you know what a serious offense I consider stale bread, let’s get back to garlic knots. They should be partially raw, and not those puny ones that are crusty on the outside. They should be soft and greasy as hell. Also, they should be no more than 10 minutes out of the oven. My standards may be high, but let’s take into consideration just how many places you can go for a basket of free knots. Like a million in a five mile radius of everywhere in the USA except farms. If all I’m judging a place by is what’s in the basket, then it had better be a hot knot.
Some places destroy an otherwise great meal by blowing it RIGHT OFF THE BAT with the following horrible-ness:
  1. Unsalted Butter – The absolute only exception to this rule is if you are giving me pretzel bread. Otherwise it is unacceptable.
  2. Butter that is too hard – I don’t get it. Let the butter soften. Or do you like your customers to break their hands before they get to the salad course?
  3. Nothing – Be a sport and put a thing of olives on the table, trendy new steakhouse/cougar lair. I get it. Every single one of your customers is on Atkins. But what’s a girl got to do to get some nuts around here?
  4. Hummus – Yes, this post has come full circle. Why is it ok that a restaurant trick you with hummus? You spread it on your bread, you can’t wait to savor the salty fattiness, and then, you’re trying to decipher what the hell kind of butter this is. POOR MAN’S BUTTER. THAT’S WHAT KIND.




My mom and dad are on a cruise

They only eat, they don’t drink booze

They eat and eat and eat and eat

They eat ’til they can’t see their feet

They eat whatever food’s in sight

They eat all day, they eat all night.

They eat dessert before each meal

And fish and soup and beef and veal.

They order cake and chicken wings

They polish off all sorts of things

The clothes they packed no longer fit

They have to let them out a bit

When they come home they’ll sing the blues

And then they’ll book another cruise.



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