Photo: Corey Melton
What are my qualifications to write this book? None, really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. Okay, to some I might not be considered that fat, but the point is, I’m not thin. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating, I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book. I’m not talking about someone who is merely in good shape. I’m talking thin. Skinny. I wouldn’t trust them skinnies with food advice. First of all, how do you know they really feel passionately about food? Well, obviously they are not passionate enough to overdo it. That’s not very passionate. Anyway, I’m overweight.
I’ll admit it. I consciously try not to take food advice from thin people. I know this may not be fair, but when Mario Batali talks, I always think, Well, this is a guy who knows what he’s talking about. He actually has experience eating food. This is why some sportscasters wonder what’s going on in a player’s head during a tense moment in a game, but the sportscaster who was once a player knows what’s going on in a player’s head. When I talk about food, I like to think I’m like one of those sportscasters who used to play professionally. I’m like the Ray Lewis or Terry Bradshaw of eating. I’m like the Tony Siragusa of eating. Well, that’s a little redundant.
When a thin person announces, “Here’s a great taco place,” I kind of shut down a little. How do they know it’s so great? From smelling the tacos? If they only ate one taco, the taco could not have been that great. Or maybe it was great, but the thin person cared more about the calories than the taste: “I had to stop at one taco. I’m on a diet.” A taco that won’t force you to break your diet just can’t be that great. Fat people know the consequences of eating, but if the food is good enough, they just don’t care. Overweight people have chosen food over appearance. When a fat person talks about a great place to get a burger, I lean in. They know.
Speaking of thin people, another person it makes no sense to take advice from is the waiter. Why do fancy restaurants always hire thin, good-looking people to be the waiters? “I’ll have the hamburger, and I want someone who is at least an 8 to bring it over to me. Can I see some headshots?” Why would we care what the waiter looks like? Even if we did, why would we take the waiter’s advice? We don’t know him. He is a stranger. “Well, he works there.” Does that make him have similar taste in things you like? Does that make him honest? Not to sound paranoid, but the waitstaff does have a financial incentive for you to order something more expensive: “Well, I highly recommend the 16-ounce Kobe Beef with Lobster and the bottle of 1996 Dom Perignon.”
What restaurants really need is a fat-guy food expert. Many fine-dining establishments have a sommelier—a wine expert—to assist in wine selection, but if a restaurant really cares about food, they should have a “Fattelier.”
FATTELIER: Well, I’d get the chili cheese fries with the cheese on the side. You get more cheese that way.
ME: Thank you, Fattelier.
Although they can’t be thin, the food adviser can’t be too fat. If they are morbidly obese, then you can conclude that they will probably eat everything and anything and do not have discerning taste. This is not to say that they won’t have valuable views. I’d still trust an overly fat person over a skinny one any day. The best adviser would have a very specific body type: pudgy or just a little overweight. This makes it clear they have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food, but not a clinical problem. They are eating beyond feeling full. Sure, I am describing my own body type, but that’s why I am qualified to write this book about food. What other credentials do you need, really? Stop being a snob. Read the book already.