Days ago, mere days ago, a Great White Ice fell upon Chicago and its various environs and lake ports. This ice, so merciless in its bevy, left the city beleaguered and useless, like a baby hobo, like a broken slinky floating in a bucket. And your Foodents, destined to write a food column on a reasonably timely basis, were troubled by the storm.
PART I: The Treason Begins
“Yes!” said Evan, and he brushed a flake of coal from his rosy, rheumy, Roman nose. “Troubling indeed!”
“O! Where shall we go to dine? What will be open during this, the very End of Days?” replied Ben.
I wish more than anything, Reader, I wish that here I could say how old Evan raised his old, magus-esque neck and said, “Nowhere. Tonight we dine at home. We’ll pull up a fire and play some Mancala alongside it. The food will be warm.”
But this is not what happened.
“I know,” said Evan. “Let’s try that restaurant—(a wind rises)—that mysterious little den overlooking the Old Fairgrounds.”
“Isn’t that the place conjoined to an orthodontist’s?” asked Ben naively.
“Yes,” said Evan. “Yes, it is.”
PART II: The Treason Began
And so they walked. Foot raised, then lowered through the snow, ceasing not, slouching toward the restaurant that beckoned. Bang boom went their feet. Click click went the door of the restaurant. Flicker flacker went the lights—“Piccolo Mondo.”
Their coats racked, and their snow brushed, Ben and Evan took their table next to an old lady with a cup of coffee, underneath a faded portrait of a spoon. Menus arrived.
PART III: The Treason Begun
A smiling and svelte man of autumnal years approached their table and forced them to eat some squid. Excitedly, Evan asked, “Grilled or fried?”
“Grilled,” the man said. “I like that best.” And he laughed.
The squid approached and landed at the table, the side portions swollen like four putrefying small Zeppelins, like four inflatable swim-aids for children. Striped and mottled like the tattooed finger of an ancient Cajun, like a veteran’s severed foot.
“I am not edible,” said the squid.
“Ah,” said Ben, chewing.
“Ah,” said Evan, chewing.
Black sauce oozed from the bottom parts, as lukewarm as the squid was room temperature.
Evan spat out the squid onto a napkin, and its rubbery remains were left there for the remainder of the meal: A constant reminder, but one that was by no means necessary.
“Soup or salad?” asked the man, grinning with knowledge gone dark with the stain of age.
“Freedom,” said Ben.
“A new napkin,” said Evan.
PART IV: The Treason Realized
Orange was the only thing that was had that night. Plates brimming with orange, oozing like Nickelodeon liposuction, like a veteran’s punctured gangrenous kidney, leaking out pain onto the Earth. As the plates made their slow decline from the heights of their mutual friend onto the table, bits of orange fled from the plate, dotting the tablecloth with hints of disgust.
“Bon appetit,” said the man, leaving, laughing.
For Evan, the orange was called Gnocchi alla Vodka. The pasta, as the squid, was balloon-framed in kind, turning with the touch of a fork on a still, bracken pool of the orange. True to its name, the vodka was just as present as it would be in any failed love scene. It had yet to be cooked off.
For Ben, the orange was called Pollo à la Gordon. The shape of this orange was the shape of a game of Stratego that both players had vomited on and then vomited on again. There were two fleshy armies of salt cleverly disguised as chicken breasts, divided by a thin band of ravioli, and sunk in a bottomless sea of orange bile. It was like the ugliest person ever if the ugliest person ever was your son.
PART V: The Treason in You
And so it was. The crime had paused and then quickly fell into their stomachs, remaining entombed. For how long? Who can say? As the Foodents looked back onto the warm din of Piccolo Mondo, of Vodka alla Orange and Orange à la Lumps, they felt reduced to a primordial ooze of universal repulsion. Unless you have tongue-less friends, friends that you hate, or orange grandparents, stay away. By God, stay away.
Farewell, stay well, and eat well,
Our rating: (-8,5)*
*Our ranking system:
Our Rating System® is a mult-eye-dimensional modular restaurant system based around two axes: the self-explanatory “unexcellence/excellence” x-axis and the similarly self-explanatory “unfancypantsness/fancypantsness” y-axis. A coordinate pair will be assigned to each restaurant based on its rating on each of these axes. You’ll figure it out.