The Gallery of Regrettable Food

The Gallery of Regrettable Food


Dreck from Foreign Shores

When I was growing up in Fargo, we had two foreign restaurants. One served Italian. The other served "Chinese" food, such as chow mein. (You could tell you were in a foreign restaurant when rice was served as a side dish--alone, in a bowl, not buried under a glop of casserole.) Most Fargoans seemed content with this arrangement. But I'm sure there were those who'd been to far-off lands--Minneapolis or Milwaukee--who'd sampled the rich array of foreign foods; surely there were frustrated housewives who curled up in a chair in the middle of the afternoon with a cigarette and a cup of coffee, reading of exotic menus in a magazine, dreaming of a place where they didn't have hotdish every Thursday night, a place where the smart set met to talk about cultural things over interesting meals.... Then the pickup pulls into the driveway.... She hears the clatter of his engine: macaroni macaroni macaroni.

Let us now jet off to foreign lands to see what delights they offered the palate in 1964.

It looks like a cross section of the Swamp Thing's brain, but it's actually cabbage stuffed with hamburger. Stuffed? It's engorged.

This would seem to defeat the purpose of serving a leafy vegetable.

Nonetheless, meat lovers will worship it: Finally! That's how you do cabbage! Bravo! It's a Trojan Horse infiltrating the encampment of militant vegetarianism.

Origin: Danish. Main exotic ingredient: about 36 cups of horseradish. Likelihood of American acceptance today: zero.

This illustration for the German section represents the peak of Hun cuisine. Foreign food at the time often meant plates like these: brown from stem to stern, shiny with the juices of beasts, best washed down with gallons of beer.

The overall inedible nature of the food can be discerned in the tableau on the beer stein: the gentleman seems to be giving his food to a dog under the table.

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Excerpted from The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks. Copyright © 2001 by James Lileks. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.