Nina In New York: When Food Is Really Good Looking, Things Get Ugly
A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
By Nina Pajak
Recently, Mr. Pajak and I were wandering around SoHo at 11 p.m. with a friend of ours, desperately searching for dinner over a long weekend. We had kind of lost track of time and of the fact that it was still a Sunday, and our options were extremely limited. We were starving. Our feet hurt. We were tired. Gus was waiting at home, a ticking time bomb of pee. I was five seconds away from grabbing a hot dog from the next cart we saw.
We passed an adorable little cafe on a street that was otherwise shuttered for the evening. Tall, skinny, beautiful people were milling about outside with cigarettes and glasses of red wine. It was hopping inside.
Our friend didn’t even break his stride. “Fashion food,” he snorted, shaking his head. We kept walking.
I couldn’t argue with him. As desperate as I was for a restaurant with an open kitchen, the sight of no one but models occupying the sidewalk tables was hardly an invitation to come inside and eat. Though New York is filled with them, I’ve managed to keep myself safely away from such establishments for the most part (not that I’ve been receiving many invitations to them). When I’m out to eat, the last thing I want to see is a dining room filled with models. Now, I have nothing against models as people. I’ve met a few and they all seem perfectly nice. But I have my reasons.
First of all, forgive me for reinforcing any unfair stereotypes, but it seems pretty clear that if fashion models are the clientele, food is possibly not the main focus here. I’m sure some models eat plenty. But with a very few exceptions, like the enigmatic Padma Lakshmi, I don’t see a lot of crossover between the worlds of fashion and gourmandism. Let’s put it this way: they’re not paid to enjoy their cheeseburgers.
Secondly, I’ve found that the more fashionable the food, the more microgreens and yellow beets cut into tiny cubes I’m forced to eat. Not to mention having to pretend I care about tea. I’m all for the restaurant scene, but there’s a difference between a trendy spot and a trendy spot.
And most of all, what do I need with a 100 lb, 6′ tall woman in my field of vision while I’m trying to eat, and eat a lot? Please, go away and let me enjoy my fettuccine in peace. Scram! Stop sitting there reminding me how a bowl of not fettuccine can benefit one’s figure. Or worse, highlighting the unfair nature of one person’s genes and God-given metabolism versus another’s. I don’t need a demonstration of how a model’s fettuccine does not immediately cause her midsection to expand an inch around. Thanks. I get it. It’s enough to make a person lose her appetite. Not me, but I’m sure there’s someone out there.
Gosh, typing “fettuccine” this many times has made me really hungry for fettuccine. I bet you are now, too. You’re welcome.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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