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Fake News

Working At This Diner for 35 Years, I’ve Seen All Walks of Life Deny Themselves True Culinary Pleasure


Welcome, doll, have a seat wherever you want. You want coffee? How do you take it? You’re so sweet, you don’t need sugar! Haha, let me tell ya, I’ve worked here at the Skylark Diner since 1983, and now it’s 2018. Can you believe it? I’ve seen quite a lot of characters in my day, and by eating at this roadside diner, all of them have denied themselves true culinary pleasure.

I tell you, I’ve served coffee and pancakes to everybody: truckers, cops, librarians, teenagers after prom. But they all got one thing in common: the opportunity to experience fresh flavors at that Finnish rice pudding parlor next door, Helsticki. And instead, they all chose this bland cultural lynchpin of over-starched American nostalgia.

This menu here? All family recipes that haven’t changed in 72 years. 72 years. This menu is more tired than a hungover porter on Christmas Day. The pancakes have never been buckwheat, even when buckwheat was just a normal, non-fetishized ingredient. Makes my eyes misty just thinking about what fresh wheats would await me at the Mongolian soft-serve yogurt spot, YertGurt.

You want some hot sauce with your Denver Omelet, darling? We’ve only got Tabasco. Vinegar and mediocrity. But frankly, anybody with an ounce of taste buds needs it to choke down our walking-dead recipes. There’s a dish on here actually called “Milque Toast.”

Look sweetheart, the food here’s not even that cheap, understand? You ever check your bill? It’s gonna ring up about the same as the Northern Irish taquería, Taco Bellfast, across the street that got a great write-up in The Weekly. In the face of the inflated banal, why deny yourself the affordable exquisite, toots? Why do I continue to deny myself their Bushmills molé?

I mean, would it kill Marty to get some higher-quality ingredients up in here? Pickled red onions are dirt cheap, and I’m sick and goddamn tired of celery sprigs. I tell ya something, if he weren’t such a good-for-nothing moron, I’d say he was a reactionary, post-industrial archaism. But what can you do? Skylark Diner sucks you in like a black hole and you can’t even see the Texas-size soup dumplings over at Xiao Lone Star Bao.

I hear ya sugar, some foods can feel so obnoxiously trendy, but why not dance in a flight of fancy? Why not engage in the gastronomic zeitgeist? [*violent cough*] Sorry, those damn Newports. The discourse itself makes you feel greater than yourself, like how it feels to share a table with strangers at that Filipino restaurant that moved into the old envelope store, Manila.

Let me ask ya somethin’ toots: you ever had a real papaya? Like, a fresh one from South Central Mexico? Oh, what eros of the earth! A little pink Himalayan salt brings out the clean, indulgent fattiness, doll. And it is divine with a glass of oat milk.

When I was young, I wanted to be an actress. These days, I just want to try Ethiopian-North Korean BBQ. They say it’s like East African and Memphis ingredients, but with Communist
Party-approved recipes. Just thinking about that symphony of exotic flavor, I feel like it’s the summer of ‘91 again, when Clarence Clemons had coffee right where you’re sitting.

You all paid up? How’d you like your pancakes, sweetheart? That’s great, but frankly, enough with the Norman Rockwell song and dance. My nutritionist says I need to more ancient grains.

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