Valerie Plame does not work here.

If your mother offers to buy you lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, even if it means taking a freaking three hour lunch on a beautiful Friday, by goodness, you take her up on that offer! The offer was sweetened by the attendance of an old childhood friend of mine and her mother, and the chance to catch up on the past 6 or 7 years of our jet-setting grown up lives.

I wish I could say the food was delicious. My meal was by no means bad, although I was disheartened at the standard lack of vegetarian fare, and some dishes had too many flavors, too many garnishes. But nothing was as bad as the dish my mom and her friend ordered. It was stuffed lobster with mushrooms that was supposed to be infused with truffle oil. The problem was the mushrooms tasted like they were infused with shoe leather, or manure, or the inside of some old barn. When we asked the waiter what the deal was, he told us it was supposed to have an “earthy, musty flavor.” Now, I love food, and I’ll eat practically anything that didn’t once move on its own volition or is a banana, but I’ve never craved a food described as “musty.” The student who produced that dish should get an A for effort, but should be forced to turn in his or her pleated white hat.

It was the culinary equivalent of a theatre student’s production of an avant-guard play. No matter how much fantastic desert you have, shitty taste still lingers.


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