Questions Never Asked

Here at Haute Plate Industries and Light Machinery Fabrication, we get a lot of questions by e-mail. Although I am very busy and extremely important, I have decided to respond to some of these queries. I hope you find the information enlightening.

Q:    Dear Robert, I frequently dine alone. Sometimes I bring work, and sometimes I bring my laptop. Now and again I take pictures of my food with a digital camera perched atop a miniature tripod. I have noticed other diners looking at me oddly as I type away or shuffle papers between courses. Am I a freak?

A:    Yes.

Q:    Dear Haute Plates Industries and Light Machinery Fabrication, I am allergic to shrimp, but I love shrimp Creole. Is it acceptable to request the kitchen omit the shrimp from that dish when dining out?

A:    Yes. You may also request that the restaurant substitute another ingredient for the shrimp. I suggest panda, or as it is known in gourmet circles, “the other other white meat.”

Q:    Dear Swine: You sicken me. I read your drivel every week as a dietary aid because you nauseate me. I wager that if you passed out while writing, your unconscious face pressed against the keyboard would render a better column than your regular output. You clearly do not know anything about food, restaurants or the English language. For a time, I suspected that your writing was an elaborate joke, but I now realize that you are simply an idiot. My question is: How much should I tip at a fine-dining restaurant?

A:    20 percent.

Q:    Dear Robert, What is the best accompaniment for roast shoulder of veal?

A:    I like something substantial with a roast, such as veal shoulder, that has a good bit of fat. It takes a little time, but pan-frying potatoes cut into smallish cubes and then roasting them to finish cooking produces a crisp exterior and a light, fluffy interior that works well seasoned with good Spanish paprika and a little parsley. Another idea is pasta with a spicy tomato sauce or panda gratin.

Q:    Dearest One, My name is Ofavia McGill-Swoboda, late of Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of the Congo. My departed husband, may sun shine eternally upon his dewy forelock, left substantial assets in financial institutions in my former home. I require your assistance to retrieve these funds and will reward your generosity and good spirit with 10 percent of the $90,000 USD if you agree. To start, I will need the following information: your social security number, a bank account into which I may deposit the funds, your mother’s maiden name, your inseam measurement, whether you prefer Coke or Pepsi, a telephone number where you may be reached during the day and your favorite member of the Cleveland Browns. I await your response with hope in my heart and three fingers of bourbon in a glass. Also, do you prefer boiled or grilled hot dogs?

A:    I prefer my hot dogs grilled, though my usual method is to place several dogs onto aluminum foil, which I then place about 3 to 4 inches from the gas broiler in my oven. I crimp the foil to prevent the dogs from rolling and rotate them at least once during the cooking. It only takes a few minutes per side, and that’s to get a nice sear on the outside of the dogs. If I’m really doing it up, I’ll split the dogs about halfway through the cooking process and add grated cheddar cheese to the middle. I also toast the buns, and usually have sweet relish, good mustard and minced onion on hand. Now and again, I’ll pop open a can of chili (no beans) too.

If you have a question that wasn’t addressed above, please don’t hesitate to ask. I live to serve.

Categories: Haute Plates, Restaurants