The busboy at the local Berfy’s fast food emporium helped me into my tent-like portmanteau. “What a shame, Sir, to have stained your nice tuxedo with ketchup.”
Testing restaurants is my metier, and my malaise. In 22 minutes I consumed: 7 each Berfy Burgers, 5 each Chewy Chicken Parts, 2 each Family Size Buckets of Fries, and a mountain of Creamy Coleslaw. I found the napkins plentiful, the lights all too bright, and the teenagers fidgety. The ketchup was needed to stain the taste of the food. But the price was right — total damages were $2.14. And the evening was just beginning. My name is Gerth Galleybottom.
I barely squeezed out the revolving door, again aided by that stalwart busboy. My bulk exhausted through and knocked down a family of seven waiting in line. I bowed, and waddled to the next restaurant on my list.
Though not overly fond of Mexican food, I pushed through the burrito-shaped doors while the huge neon lights spelling “La Cucaracha Caca” blinked their approval overhead. The time was 4:18 pm. It was late enough to start drinking. In my profession I often have to.
I tossed down the five ceremonial shots of tequila and commenced gnashing nachos. Orange cardboard toast. Five plates later I was ready for the next course, the best of all Mexican cooking, the Margarita. Two were enough to judge the house bartender’s work, so I gave him my recipe, the prize-winner at the 1972 Acapulco Cocktail Convention. We filled the blender many times.
The huge tray of steaming food arrived and was spread on the three tables in front of me. It all looked revolting. I waved it away whilst my starched collar drooped from the powerful stench. No surprise the Mexicans have never had a stable government. As the mustachioed waiter scowled and cleared the table, the aphrodisiacal effect of the tequila awakened my innermost essence. (Even the Ancient Greeks knew that strength comes from the stomach.) With a shout the trays were returned and voraciously emptied. The food had burnt during the cook’s siesta, but the cutlery was clean and the busgirls had fabulous smiles. (No detail escapes my eye.) I wiped the taco sauce from my ears, paid my $7.51 tab, and left. The time was 5:02.
With appetite and cuffs whetted by Margaritas I made my way to my favorite Italian restaurant, the Scrimo Volare. The entrance portal is an eye-catcher. I waltzed between Gina Lollobrigida’s breasts and glided to my favorite table. The waitress, dressed as a Ferrari, smiled and brought me a triple Vermouth Cassis. My chronometer read 5:30 precisely.
The antipasto was finished off with reckless abandon. Then I ravaged the oceanic bowl of prawns, loaves of bread, and blocks of Rimboli cheese. Bottles of white, rose and red accompanied, in that order. With a flourish came the maître d’, an Italian stallion, to mix the Caesar salad. With insolent skill he rubbed, swirled, conducted and manipulated.
I tossed the salad into my cavernous opening in bloody great fistfuls. They were out of Perrier, so I quaffed root beer Fizzies. In minutes I sat open-armed for the main course. The main course, for me anyway, consisted of one each of the chef’s three most-loved entrees. In a festive mood, I hinted to the maître d’ for larger than average portions.
In moments the beaming chef appeared, his entourage laden with serving trays. The wine steward filled my Chianti glass and stood poised. My knife and fork rained sparks as I stormed through my rations. The chef was delighted, and amazed. Garlic and oregano met meat and tomato in a blurry symphony of red and brown, discordant on my suit of Armani turquoise. The wine steward was soon sweating.
For dessert I requested and received a special dish of spumoni — a life-size sculpture of Sophia Loren’s derrière. Some of us were born with a sweet tooth. My Ferrari delivered a carafe of Galliano, which lubricated a chorale of eructation. At this the hospitable chef was so pleased he refused to let me pay the bill, and insisted I drive home my waitress, a high-performance model. With a smile I pinched her fender, although I declined, since the night was young and there remained more testing.
I raised my barnlike body from the chair, received a standing ovation from the diners and staff, and trundled on my way. After these preliminary warm-ups my face radiated a healthy pink, and my jowls flexed like a dancer’s thighs. It was 7:06, and I was set to tackle number four.
A self-respecting gastronome, I never say ‘no’ to pizza. At Flakey’s they share my culinary philosophy: Quantity is Quality. The menu featured, of all things, a “Glutton’s Delight”. The pimply lad grimaced when I ordered it, and he explained that usually entire rugby teams order that one.
Many have asked how I became a glutton, and I try not to surprise them. Always I have done what I do best. Writing is a natural extension of eating — merely substitute a pen for a fork, and treat words like bites. Some are to be eschewed with care, since no two tongues are alike. In my capacity as a trencherman I hope to fill a gap as inspiration for eating as an art. Like writing, I practice this art in a big way.
At 7:42, in a big way, they carried out my pizza. Not unlike the Viennese Boys Choir six bow-tied boys burst into song, fired by the panache in pasta they shouldered. Lighting the fuse of this oral explosion was the knowledge that this chef d’oeuvre contained, untrue to the menu, psilocybin mushrooms.
Two pool tables were pushed together side-by-side, and the steamy pizza placed congruently atop. To demonstrate the quality ingredients the six lads surrounding the table proudly plunged in unison their right fists as far into the pie as they would go. I inspected the residue on the boys’ arms, reaching nearly to the elbow. The crust was found to be as light and flaky as could be expected. I dove in.
The rest is belly-flopping history. After three slices the pizza began to shimmer and quiver. I masticated mincingly until once again my innermost essence of consumption awoke like never before. I evolved into an energetic eater par excellence! My desire and sensitivity congealed in a culinary crescendo.
Back in the kitchen the oven had been left on high, but that was forgotten in the excitement. Soon the fuse box could take no more, so the pizza, and I, were plunged into darkness.
Neither darkness, nor rain, nor snow, shall stay an over-eater from the swift accumulation of his daily pounds. My voraciousness in the blackened restaurant translated into grunts and slurps and occasional moans at the utter hellish divinity of the situation.
Words can’t describe the exhilaration I felt from this appetizer. The hallucinogenic mushrooms made cosmic cornucopias in the cupola of my mind. Now I was quite ready for the big meal of the day.
Professional composure made me leave money on the table; but in a stupor I reeled and staggered to the last oasis of eating. My saliva was like lava.
Pure instinct, and not rational composure, led me to the Fowlhaven. Special occasions call for pheasant, and the best pheasant is found at the famous Fowlhaven, across the tracks in the Southside.
At 8:57 I entered up the steps, then tripped down the other side of the steps, until I came to rest pinning the hostess by the after-dinner mints. With grey matter melting I chewed on her arm and jotted on my sleeve: “Meat tasty but underdone and loud.”
I slobbered at her meaningfully. She quaked and pointed to the best table. My heart pounded mightily. I scanned the menu in this Peter Max movie, wanting all but reserving the finest and final ecstasy for the pheasant. I would pace myself, working my way along an ever-increasing frenzy of the flesh, until my sphere could fatten no more.
The bartender, an old friend and understudy, was summoned quickly and nodded his head all-knowingly. Always at home in an emergency, he barked orders to the hostess, the waiting staff and the chef, a hen-pecked but gifted genius.
So as to avoid falling off the chair in this rapidly spinning room I concentrated full-force on the spacious table in front of me. Soon I was oblivious to all around me except the vacant landing platform, and began to think and feel only with my mouth.
A prodigious salad (was it a Crab Louis?) and bottles of beer and wine popped into view, and the battle was on. I fell headlong to the task, and devoured it in seconds. The bartender’s stony jaw dropped, only for a moment, and he started barking orders again. A punchbowl of Vichyssoise (or was it grog?) materialized where the salad had been, encircled by hot loaves of brown bread and buckets of butter. I lapped like a thousand basset hounds until the punchbowl was empty. I shoved bread down my throat, up my nose, and in my ears until the next course came: a bathtub of shrimp and avocado. O bastion of bliss!
Time had no meaning. My mind blazed with passion for food, and my meal blurred into a nightmare of nutrients. Luckily I was in great shape, and could go on and on.
I had licked the bathtub clean when the intrepid bartender started filling it with sparkling wine. Ah, what nectar! In four bites as many of my favorite quiches — oyster, bacon, mushroom and cheese — vanished. My head catapulted back to the champagne.
Then appeared a massive steak — or was it strawberry Jell-O? — pampered cow sizzling, as thick as my pudgy arm. I rejoiced in primeval chewing, and leaned back in the heavily-strained chair. A statuesque goblet of claret found its way into my mitt. I drank of it deeply.
My eyes were blurry but my tongue saw with crystal clarity. Every bite, no matter how big, was savored in time and space. Each atom of food and drink whirled like a dervish. Taste, texture and aroma performed like seasoned professionals in this opera of the palate.
With Wagnerian drama the pheasant under glass arrived. I heard trumpets blaring, pipe organs blasting, and bagpipes played by angels singing. I paused in prayer, then pounced on the perched poultry. Savagery is reserved for fodder; civility treats culinary art with care. I beveled the bird in delicate bites, feathering them with my flying tongue. My taste buds soared in the exquisite texture of the pheasant, done to a turn in the most subtle and savory of sauces.
The Bordeaux streamed like the red river Lethe, and there came from deep in my torso a glowing. This glowing means that, from my tingling toes to my shimmering dome, that I am full.
The hallucinogenic mushrooms wore off, just as the mechanisms of digestion kicked in. The pulverizing was prodigious, and I was hurled towards epicurean unconsciousness. As I fell from my chair, I saluted the fine bartender, signed the check ($17,811.50), and waved away the chocolate cheesecake. The time was 3:10 am.
By a broad plot in the Bayview Cemetery proudly stands a wide tombstone which reads:
“A surprise for Michelin,
he found one rated six.
His plate piled with adrenaline,
to hell with chopsticks!
He ate till he burst,
it’s as simple as that.
His life could have been worse –
but, thank God, he had been fat!
A Salute to my Trade,
a Gauntlet of Gluttony,
I am Gerth Galleybottom.”