“Today’s Special” Summary
Sedaris and his partner, Hugh, sit down to a particularly fancy dinner in celebration of Hugh’s birthday. Hugh is nicely dressed, and Sedaris remarks that Hugh owns all of the clothes he is wearing, unlike Sedaris, who has been lent a jacket by the maître d’ that looks like something that would be worn by the leader of a high school marching band. Sedaris is fussing with the gold braids on said jacket when the waiter brings both men an appetizer to “amuse” the palate. The dish resembles a Band-Aid floating in sauce, and the waiter explains that it is “raw Atlantic swordfish served in a dark chocolate gravy and garnished with fresh mint.” Sedaris jokes that the dish sounds a little too “conventional,” to which the waiter retorts, “Love your jacket.”
Sedaris explains that he generally doesn’t like going out to eat in New York, complaining that restaurants have outlawed smoking but somehow think it’s okay to serve raw fish floating in chocolate. Many of the restaurants in his neighborhood no longer serve plain American fare but instead offer hip, creative dishes or things like “indigenous American cuisine”: patty melts, he says, have been replaced by “herb-encrusted medallions of baby artichoke hearts.”
A big part of the problem is that Sedaris resides in SoHo, a trendy neighborhood that now caters to the young, wealthy, and hip. In this part of town, even ostensibly simple dishes are ruined by the inclusion of something odd and unlikable, like meatloaf poached in seawater or a tuna salad sprinkled with figs. Sedaris jokes that New York’s culinary arts have surely entered their Dadaist phase.
Although he does not think of himself as picky, Sedaris reflects that it’s hard to like dishes...
(The entire section is 446 words.)