Transcript: John Allemang | Feb 06, 2000

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting at a restaurant table as a production assistant fixes their makeup: “John Allemang. Author.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, black shirt, and gray tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
WELL,
THE IMPORTANCE OF
BEING EARNEST
IS ALL WELL
AND GOOD, BUT I PERSONALLY
LIKE THE TITLE OF
MY NEXT GUEST'S BOOK,
THE IMPORTANCE OF LUNCH.
THAT RINGS A BELL TO ME.
LUNCH RATHER THAN EARNESTNESS
WINS OUT EVERY TIME.
THAT'S WHY THIS DIALOGUE
IS WITH JOHN ALLEMANG.

John is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with receding short brown hair. He’s wearing rimless glasses, a gray coat and a black t-shirt.

Richard continues JOHN, WELCOME.

John says HELLO.

Richard says I WAS DELIGHTED TO STUMBLE ON
ONE OF THE EARLY STORIES IN
YOUR BOOK WHERE YOU TALK ABOUT
THIS HORRIBLE REVELATION THAT
A FRIEND WHO YOU THOUGHT YOU
KNEW WELL, DIDN'T LUNCH.

John says IT APPALLED ME.
AND HE STATED IT AS A
KIND OF MATTER OF PRIDE.
THAT IN THE MODERN WORLD,
LUNCH WAS SOMEHOW IRRELEVANT.
IT GOT IN THE WAY.
REAL MEN DIDN'T EAT LUNCH.
I WAS DISTURBED.

Richard says I KNOW.
IT'S LIKE YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO
SIT AT YOUR DESK AND JUST EAT
COTTAGE CHEESE, RIGHT?

John says OR NOT EAT AT ALL.
I MEAN, GO AND WORK OUT.
ALL THAT TIME WASTED EATING,
AND GAINING WEIGHT, PUTTING
ON CALORIES, UNNECESSARY
CALORIES, PROBABLY THE WRONG
ONES TOO, WHEN YOU COULD BE
REDUCING YOUR WEIGHT AND YOUR
STRESS AND ALL THE OTHER
THINGS THAT MAKE MODERN LIFE
SO IMPORTANT.

Richard says NOW, THERE'S TWO
DISTINCTIONS HERE.
BECAUSE I THINK WHAT'S
HAPPENED IS THERE WAS A BAD
RAP OF THE '60s, '70s, AND
EARLY '80s OF WHAT THEY CALL
THE INFAMOUS THREE MARTINI
LUNCH, WHICH WAS EQUATED WITH
HIGH EXPENSE ACCOUNTS, AND
DECADENCE, AND PEOPLE SHOWING
UP USELESS FOR WORK.
BUT YOU'RE NOT TALKING
ABOUT THAT PER SE, ARE YOU?

John says WELL, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE
DAYS WHEN I WOULDN'T MIND
REVIVING IT, I
HAVE TO TELL YOU.
BUT IT ISN'T SO
MUCH THAT, NO.
I MEAN, IT'S JUST MARKING OUT
LUNCH, AND LUNCH TIME, AS A
PERIOD IN THE DAY WHEN WE CAN
GIVE OURSELVES BACK A BIT OF
THE PLEASURE WE SEEM TO BE
SO BUSY DENYING OURSELVES
THE REST OF THE DAY.
I THINK BACK, AND I GUESS,
WHEN I WRITE ABOUT FOOD, AND
TALK ABOUT FOOD, I THINK I'M
OFTEN LOOKING BACK BECAUSE I
THINK WE HAVE A LOT TO LEARN,
ABOUT THE THREE HOUR LUNCHES
OF PROVINCIAL FRANCE, OR
ITALY, WHERE THE DAY STOPPED,
PEOPLE WENT HOME.
ELIZABETH DAVID, A GREAT FOOD
WRITER, TELLS ABOUT GOING
SHOPPING IN A FRENCH TOWN IN
THE SOUTH, AND SEEING A SIGN
ON THE DOOR THAT SAID,
FERME A CAUSE DE CASSOULET.
CASSOULET IS A WEIGHTY FRENCH
STEW, AND PEOPLE JUST SHUT
DOWN THE TOWN FOR THE DAY,
BASICALLY BECAUSE EVERYONE WAS
OFF EATING THIS
BEAN AND PORK STEW.
AND I KIND OF LONG, MAYBE NOT
FOR THE BEANS AND THE PORK,
BUT THE TIME PEOPLE
USED TO TAKE TO EAT.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE YOU
GET INTO DISCUSSING IN YOUR
BOOK ABOUT HOW THE PLEASURE OF
FOOD HAS EVAPORATED FROM OUR
SOCIETY TO A CERTAIN POINT.
PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, GRAB
SOMETHING ON THE WAY TO WORK.
THEY SKIP LUNCH, AND DINNER
IS, WELL, WHAT ARE YOU GOING
TO DEFROST OR ORDER IN TONIGHT
BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS SO BUSY,
RIGHT?
AND YOU TALK ABOUT IT'S A
REAL MISSED OPPORTUNITY.

John says IT'S A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
SEVERAL TIMES A DAY.
OFFICIALLY, WE EAT THREE TIMES
A DAY, BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND
DINNER, AND WE PROBABLY HAVE
A FEW MORE OPPORTUNITIES IN
THERE IF WE WANT TO GET THEM.
AND, YOU KNOW, WE ARE DENYING
OURSELVES THE OPPORTUNITY TO
ENJOY LIFE THAT
MANY TIMES A DAY.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE AN
EXTRAVAGANZA, BUT YOU'RE GONNA
SIT DOWN, AND YOU'RE GONNA
EAT, AND WHY NOT ENJOY IT?
WHY MAKE IT SO DESTRESSING, AND
SO HARD, AND SUCH A CHALLENGE?
AND A COMPETITION, AS WELL.

Richard says DO YOU THINK WE'VE LOST A
LOT -- I THINK BACK TO EVEN
TWO GENERATIONS, LET'S SAY,
NOT JUST ONE GENERATION, WHERE
PEOPLE SAT DOWN AND ATE A HOT
BREAKFAST EVERY MORNING,
EN FAMILLE.
AND THEY WENT OFF AND WORKED
AND THEY USUALLY COULDN'T GET
BACK TOGETHER FOR LUNCH, BUT
THEY CERTAINLY THEN HAD A BIG
DINNER, EN FAMILLE AS WELL.
BUT NOW I DON'T KNOW A FAMILY
IN THE WORLD THAT, EXCEPT
FOR THE WEEKENDS, DOES AN
OBLIGATORY SIT DOWN BREAKFAST.

John says WELL, YOU KNOW, I DON'T
THINK WE CAN DO IT.
I DON'T WANT TO BE HOPELESSLY
NOSTALGIC AND SAY THEY HAD IT
RIGHT NOW, AND WE'VE
GOT IT WRONG NOW.
THE WORLD HAS CHANGED,
AND WE HAVE TO ADAPT.
BUT WE DON'T HAVE TO ADAPT SO
HARD THAT WE DON'T FIND THE
KIND OF PLEASURES THAT WORK
WITH OUR WAY OF LIFE NOW.
I MEAN, THE OLD WORLD WHERE
PEOPLE DID HAVE ALL THOSE HOT
MEALS, THERE WAS USUALLY, AT
THE VERY LEAST, A MOTHER AND
POSSIBLY SERVANTS WHO WERE
DOING ALL THESE THINGS.
SISTERS, HELPING OUT.
WELL, WOMEN WOULDN'T STAND FOR
THAT, AND PROBABLY A FEW MEN
WOULD ACCEPT IT EITHER.
IF EVERYONE IS RUSHING OFF TO
WORK AND SCHOOL IN A FAMILY,
WHO IS GOING TO
MAKE THE HOT MEALS?
WHO IS GOING TO
CLEAN UP AFTERWARDS?
WE CAN'T DO IT.
SO WE HAVE TO FIND A WAY
TO DO IT THAT SUITS US.
AND IT MIGHT JUST MEAN BUYING
A REALLY NICE MARMALADE AND
PUTTING IT ON YOUR TOAST IN
THE MORNING INSTEAD OF JUST
HAVING INSTANT BREAKFAST, OR
HAVING NO BREAKFAST AT ALL.
OR DOING WHAT I
DO SOME MORNINGS.
I BUY A PANETONE, AN ITALIAN
CAKE AT ONE OF MY LOCAL
ITALIAN DELIS.
I CUT A SLICE, PUT SOME BUTTER
ON IT, OR MARMALADE, TAKE IT
INTO WORK, AND THEN AS I'M
SCANNING THE INTERNET IN THE
MORNING, YOU KNOW, I
KIND OF NIBBLE THIS
AND HAVE A NICE COFFEE.
THIS MIGHT LOOK HORRIFYING
FROM THE 19th-CENTURY POINT
OF VIEW, BUT TO ME, IT'S
MORE SATISFYING THAN THE
PRESENT ALTERNATIVE.

Richard says WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT
HORRIFYING, A LOT OF THE
HORROR COMES FROM THE
NUTRITIONISTS AND THE
DOCTORS AND THAT.
AND YOU DO GO ON, AND I THINK
WISELY SO ABOUT HOW THINGS
FROM BE PROSCRIBED.
FAT HAS BEEN PROSCRIBED,
SALT HAS BEEN PROSCRIBED.
WHY DO YOU THINK THEY STARTED
DOING ALL OF THIS TO US?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “John Allemang. Author.”

John says WELL, WE GAVE THEM THE
OPPORTUNITY, AND THEY'VE TAKEN
ADVANTAGE OF IT.
THEY'RE DOCTORS, AND
THEY'VE GOT DIETITIANS AND
NUTRITIONISTS
WORKING WITH THEM.
AND THEIR JOB IS TO MONITOR
OUR HEALTH, AS THEY SEE IT.
BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT WE SHOULD
ALLOW THEM TO DO FOR US.
WE CAN LET THEM BE OUR
ADVISORS IF NECESSARY, BUT
WE'RE SO INSECURE ABOUT
THE WAY WE EAT, WE'RE SO
FRIGHTENED THAT WE
MIGHT DO OURSELVES HARM.
AND DEEP DOWN INSIDE, THERE'S
A SENSE WE CRAVE IMMORTALITY.
BABY BOOMERS, ESPECIALLY,
WANT TO BE YOUNG FOREVER.
AND THIS SEEMS TO BE THE KEY
TO IT, AS FAR AS WE'RE TOLD.
IT'S NOT.

Richard says NO.
YOU VERY SENSIBLY TALK ABOUT,
YOU ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF FAT,
AND YOU SAY, A CERTAIN AMOUNT
OF FAT IN COOKING DOES ALL
THESE POSITIVE THINGS, RIGHT?

John says FAT IS A GREAT THING.
IT SHOULDN'T BE DEMONIZED.
IT'S NECESSARY FOR HUMAN
BEINGS TO HAVE FAT.
FOR CHILDREN, IN PARTICULAR.
BREAST MILK, PROBABLY HAS THE
HIGHEST FAT CONTENT OF ANY OF
THE MILKS AVAILABLE TO
HUMAN BEINGS AT THIS POINT.
NO ONE'S GIVING
BABIES SKIM MILK.
IT WOULDN'T HELP THEM.
IT WOULD HURT THEM.
AND WE'RE STILL HUMAN
CREATURES WHO HAVE THIS
KIND OF NEED.
WE DON'T NEED
FAT ALL THE TIME.
WE DON'T NEED TO DEEP
FRY EVERYTHING IN LARD.
YOU KNOW, THE GLASGOW
DIET IS FAIRLY DEADLY,
IT HAS BEEN PROVED.
BUT WE DON'T WANT TO
RULE IT OUT, WE NEED IT.
AND BEYOND NEEDING
IT, IT'S GOOD.
IT TASTES GOOD.
A WELL-MARBLED
STEAK HAS FLAVOUR.
A STEAK WITH REDUCED
FAT HAS NO FLAVOUR.
I DON'T WANT TO EAT THE
STEAK THAT HAS NO FLAVOUR.
I'D RATHER EAT NOTHING AT ALL.
YOU KNOW, IT TAKES LIKE WADDED
UP PAPER IN YOUR MOUTH WHEN
YOU CHEW ON IT.

Richard says YOU ALSO TALK ABOUT WHAT
THEY'VE DONE TO THE PORK
IN THE COUNTRY.

John says PORK'S IN THE PROCESS
OF BEING DESTROYED.
WE KNOW PORK FARMERS ARE DOING
TERRIBLY THESE DAYS, AND ONE
OF THE REASONS IS A FEW YEARS
BACK, THEY TOOK THE DECISION
TO REDUCE THE FAT IN PORK.
THE PIGS WERE TOO FAT, AND
PEOPLE WEREN'T EATING THEM
BECAUSE THE MEDICAL
SCARES WERE OUT THERE.
WELL, THE GOOD THING ABOUT PORK
IS IT HAS A LOT OF THIS FAT.
BACON WITHOUT FAT ISN'T BACON.
SAUSAGES WITHOUT FAT ARE
DRIED, TASTELESS THINGS.
WE NEED THE FAT IN IT.
IT'S LUBRICATION.
IT'S FLAVOUR AS WELL.
NOW, PORK IS JUST AN
ALTERNATIVE TO CHICKEN,
AND PEOPLE ARE GOING
TO EAT THE CHICKEN.
IT'S CHEAPER.

Richard says THEY'RE CALLING IT
'THE OTHER WHITE MEAT'.

John says 'THE OTHER WHITE MEAT'.
IT'S ASTONISHING.
THE SALMON OF THE LAND,
I SUPPOSE YOU COULD
ALSO CALL IT, TOO.

Richard says THAT'S TOO FATTY.

John says YEAH, IF YOU TAKE
OFF THE SKIN, RIGHT.

Richard says ONE OF THE THINGS I
APPRECIATE ABOUT YOUR WRITING
IS IN ADDITION TO OPENING
THE DOOR TO MODERATION AND
SAYING, NOW, COME ON
EVERYBODY, WE DO NEED SOME
FAT, YOU'RE NOT AFRAID TO
GET IN THERE AND WALLOW IN
EXCESS, AS WELL, WHERE YOU
TALK ABOUT WHAT IT'S LIKE TO
MAKE YOUR OWN PATE.
AND YOU TALK ABOUT REDUCING
MASSES OF PORK TO THEIR BASICS.

John says WELL, I MEAN, PATE IS,
IT'S PROBABLY HALF FAT.
A GOOD RILLETTE IS FAT WITH A
BIT OF PORK ADDED, I THINK.
RILLETTE IS A SPECIALTY OF THE
LOIRE VALLEY IN FRANCE THAT
I DISCOVERED KIND OF
WANDERING ALONG THE RIVER.

Richard says YES, THERE'S A GREAT
RHAPSODY TO IT IN YOUR BOOK.
ALMOST MADE ME WANT
TO RUN OUT AND TRY IT.

John says I FOUND MY FIRST POT OF
RILLETTE AFTER PRACTICALLY
FALLING INTO THE LOIRE,
HAVING LOST MY WAY ON
A PATH, AND IT WAS
LIKE DELIVERANCE.
NOT THE MOVIE DELIVERANCE,
NO, WE DON'T WANT TO GET
INTO THAT.
PATE IS ONE OF THESE THINGS
WE'RE DENYING OURSELVES
THESE DAYS.
I'M SURE SOMEWHERE
THERE'S A LOW FAT PATE,
OR A MICROWAVE PATE.

Richard says OH, THERE IS.
THEY DO THESE LIGHT
FISH TERRINES.

John says VEGETABLE TERRINES HELD
TOGETHER BY GELATIN.
WELL, PROBABLY NOT GELATIN
BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE
MEAT-BASED, BUT SOME SORT
OF SYNTHETIC THAT HOLDS IT
ALL TOGETHER, AND
IT'S LIGHT AS AIR.
BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT A PATE IS.
PATE IS SOLID, IT HAS FLAVOUR,
IT'S RUSTIC, IT'S EARTHY.
AND IT CONNECTS WITH
THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN
EXPERIENCE, TOO, WHICH TO
ME IS KIND OF INTERESTING.

Richard says WE'RE TRYING TO RECLAIM SOME
OF THIS HONESTY OF FOOD AND
GET BACK TO IT, BUT I WANTED
YOUR FEELINGS ON WHERE
WE'VE GONE WITH FOOD.
FOR A LONG TIME, FOOD
WAS WHAT YOU ATE, RIGHT?
IT WOULD SUSTAIN YOU.
THE SNOB APPEAL OF FOOD
STARTED TO SPRING UP, I'M
THINKING, THE FIRST TIME JULIA
CHILD WAS THERE ON PBS DOING
THE FRENCH CHEF
AND ALL OF THAT.
AND WE GOT INTO A WHOLE SERIES
OF WHO WAS COMPETING WITH
EACH OTHER TO COOK
HOW MUCH STUFF.
HOW LONG DO YOU FEEL THAT KIND
OF LASTED, DO YOU REMEMBER,
BEING IN OUR SOCIETY?

John says I DON'T THINK IT'S GONE AWAY.
I THINK IT'S JUST DIFFERENT
LAYERS OF SNOB APPEAL.
WHERE WE WENT WRONG, I
SUPPOSE, WAS ALLOWING OTHER
PEOPLE TO TELL US WHAT
COOKING WAS ALL ABOUT.
PEOPLE DON'T KNOW HOW TO COOK.
THEY'VE FORGOTTEN HOW.
THEY'RE NOT TAUGHT.
IT'S NOT HANDED DOWN MOTHER
TO DAUGHTER, GOD HELP US,
FATHER TO SON.
BUT I DO REMEMBER THE RISE
OF THE GOURMET CULTURE.
PROBABLY THE LATE '50s
IS WHERE I'D PLACE IT.
AND THAT COINCIDES
WITH MY PARENTS' ERA.
IT'S MAYBE A POST-WAR
EXPERIENCE WHERE SUBURBANITES
HAVE RISEN UP AND ARE TRYING
TO ESTABLISH THEMSELVES
AS CLASSY PEOPLE.
YOU KNOW, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
IN THE SUBURBAN WORLD.
YOU CAN REMAKE YOURSELF.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS YOU
CAN TAKE ON IS THE KIND OF
ARISTOCRATIC TRAPPINGS THAT
FORMERLY ONLY BELONGED
TO THE WEALTHY.
YOU DID THAT WITH
CHAFING DISHES.
YOU REMEMBER CHAFING DISHES,
WHERE YOU'D HEAT UP THE FOOD
AT THE TABLE JUST
AS THE WAITERS DID.
JULIA CHILD, I THINK, WAS THE
NEXT WAVE OF TRYING TO GET AT
AUTHENTIC FRENCH COOKING AND
MAKING IT THE WAY THE FRENCH
PEOPLE DID.
NOT THE AMERICANIZED VERSION.

Richard says THEN YOU ALSO WATCH
FOR THE TRENDINESS.
SOMETHING COMES.
I RECALL BACK IN THE
EARLY 1980s, WHEN
THE SILVER PALETTE
COOKBOOK
FIRST CAME OUT.
AND FOR ABOUT 18 MONTHS AFTER,
YOU WERE DOOMED TO GO TO
DINNER PARTIES WHERE THE
CARROT AND ORANGE SOUP WOULD
COME OUT.
THEN THE STUFFED CHICKEN
BREAST WOULD COME OUT.
AND IT WAS LIKE EVERYBODY WAS
SINGING FROM THE SAME HYMN
BOOK, IN EFFECT.

John says THAT'S THE WORST THING
ABOUT FASHIONABLE COOKING IS
ULTIMATELY, EVERYONE ENDS
UP DOING THE SAME THING.
YOU KNOW, IN THEORY, IT'S
SUPPOSED TO BE A WAY TO GET
SOME VARIETY IN YOUR LIFE, BUT
IN PRACTICE, EVERYONE IN THE
DINNER PARTY CULTURE, AT
LEAST, HAVING THAT SAME
CARROT SOUP.
AND WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH
VARIETY OUT THERE, SO MUCH TO
DRAW ON, YOU DON'T NEED
THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK,
BUT THAT'S WHAT
PEOPLE RELY ON.
THEY'RE INSECURE,
THEY'RE UNCERTAIN.
AND WHEN IT GETS THE STAMP OF
APPROVAL, FINALLY, THERE'S
A SENSE OF LIBERATION.
BUT IT'S ONLY TEMPORARY, AND
IT'S STILL PRETTY CONFINING.

Richard says WHAT DO YOU THINK IS
SUPER TRENDY RIGHT NOW?

John says OH, I HOPE I DON'T KNOW
WHAT'S SUPER TRENDY RIGHT NOW.
YOU KNOW, I'VE DEVOTED MY
LIFE, IN THE LAST COUPLE OF
YEARS, TO AVOIDING TRENDS
BECAUSE I DECIDED SOMEWHERE
THIS IS WHERE WE'D GONE WRONG,
THAT WE WERE APING OTHER
PEOPLE'S COOKING.
IT WAS ALL A
MAGAZINE-BASED CULTURE.
BUT THE KIND OF STUFF I'VE
NOTICED, LET'S SAY IN THE LAST
COUPLE OF YEARS BECAUSE I
CAN'T DO WHAT THIS WEEK'S
TREND IS, I'M OUT OF TOUCH.
IS TALL FOOD.
TALL FOOD IS STILL WITH US.
I THINK, OFFICIALLY IN NEW
YORK, IT'S NO LONGER A TREND.
BUT THIS IS FOOD THAT PROBABLY
RISES UP, RISES UP, UNTIL
IT'S ABOUT AT EYE LEVEL.
AND WHEN IT'S PUT DOWN ON THE
TABLE, EVERYONE GOES, “AH, OOH.”

Richard says THEN YOU TRY TO EAT IT.

John says IT'S CHAFING DISH COOKING.
IT'S THE SAME EXPERIENCE
THAT THE SUBURBANITES HAD
IN THE '50s.

Richard says THE VIAGRA SCHOOL OF CUISINE.

John says YES, KEEP IT ERECT FOR
AS LONG AS POSSIBLE,
AND YOU'LL IMPRESS THEM.
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER IT'S
PRESENTED IN FRONT OF YOU?
YOU'VE GOT THESE LAYERS AND
LAYERS OF FISH AND VEGETABLES,
AND IT'S ALL KIND OF HELD
TOGETHER WITH THINGS THAT ARE
LEANING FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES.
MAYBE LAMB CHOPS THAT ARE
LEANING WITH THE RIB BONE
STICKING UP.

Richard says KIND OF LIKE MY
SON DOES LEGO.
HE BUILDS THINGS THAT ARE
PRECARIOUS AND OUGHT TO DEFY
GRAVITY, BUT THEY HOLD
TOGETHER FOR TEN SECONDS.

John says LEGO MAY TASTE AS GOOD.
I THINK I'VE SEEN
KIDS CHEWING ON IT.
PLASTIC FOOD.
IT'S TWO DIFFERENT FORMS
OF PLASTIC FOOD CULTURE.

Richard says SO WE'VE GOT THE
AWFUL TALL FOOD.

John says NOW, ONE OF THE ONES I
REALLY LATE IS THE WRAPS.

Richard says I WAS GONNA MENTION THAT.
THERE SEEM TO BE
WRAPS EVERYWHERE.

John says YEAH, RHAPSODIZING
OVER WRAPS.
THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL
HEALTHY FOOD, ISN'T IT?
IT'S GOT NOTHING IN
THERE TO FLAVOUR IT.
THERE'S A LOT OF LITTLE
BITS OF VEGETABLES, KIND OF
JULIENNE VEGETABLES AND SO ON,
AND NOTHING THAT WOULD APPALL
YOU IN ANY WAY.
IT LOOKS PRETTY, I GUESS,
AND PRETTINESS IS A PART OF
TRENDY FOOD.
AND YOU CAN HOLD
IT IN YOUR HANDS.
AND THAT MEANS IT'S KIND OF
INFORMAL, WHICH IS SAID
TO BE GOOD.
AND IT'S FAST TO EAT,
AND THAT'S GOOD, TOO.
WHAT YOU'RE LEFT WITH IS
SOMETHING NO RATIONAL,
REASONABLE PERSON,
WOULD EVER WANT TO EAT.

Richard says NO.
AND THE OTHER THING THAT'S
INTERESTING, THE AVERAGE FAT
CONTENT, FOR EXAMPLE, OF A
WRAP, IS OVER THREE TIMES THAT
OF A GOOD BAGEL.

John says WELL, I DIDN'T KNOW THAT.
YOU'VE ENLIGHTENED ME.
THANK YOU.
I THOUGHT THEY WERE HEALTHY.

Richard says SO YOU'D RATHER SIT
DOWN AND HAVE A BAGEL.
YOU THINK BECAUSE IT LOOKS
SO USELESS AND LIGHT,
IT MUST BE GOOD FOR YOU.

John says IT MUST BE.
I'M NOT SURE ABOUT
BAGELS THOUGH.
BAGELS THESE DAYS, WHAT
HAPPENED TO BAGELS?

Richard says I KNOW.

John says A GOOD OLD BAGEL HAD SESAME
ON THE OUTSIDE, OR POPPY
SEEDS, OR NOTHING.
THAT WAS ABOUT IT.
NOW, IT'S BASICALLY THE
DONUT EXPERIENCE, OR THE
CROISSANT EXPERIENCE.
IT'S JUST MOVED ON TO THE NEXT
GENERATION OF STUFF WE CAN
TINKER WITH, AND MAKE LESS
LIKE REAL FOOD, AND MORE LIKE
PLAY TIME.

Richard says DOESN'T YOUR HEART STOP WHEN
YOU SEE SOMETHING CALLED THE
EVERYTHING BAGEL?
YOU WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS.
DOES IT HAVE CELERY IN IT?
DOES IT HAVE A LITTLE
BIT OF SWISS CHARD?

John says IF IT HAD SWISS CHARD,
IT MIGHT BE RIGHT --
I'M THE SIMPLICITY AS
OLD BAGEL KIND OF GUY.
I THINK YOU BUY IT, AND YOU
START EATING IT ON THE WAY
HOME WHILE IT'S STILL SOGGY.
AND WHEN YOU GET HOME, YOU
KIND OF TAKE YOUR FINGER,
WET IT A BIT, PUT IT AROUND
THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG,
AND PICK UP THE SESAME
SEEDS AT THE BOTTOM.
AND THAT'S THE KIND OF COUP
DE GRACE, THE CROWNING GLORY.

Richard says NOW, JOHN, I WANT TO GET INTO
A VERY SENSITIVE AREA HERE.
IT IS THE '90s, WE'RE
ALLOWED TO BE HONEST,
FULL DISCLOSURE.
I WANT YOU TO REVEAL YOUR
MAJOR CHILDHOOD ADDICTION.

John says MY GUILTY SECRET.
IT'S HAMBURGERS.
AND LET'S NOT JUST
LEAVE IT AT CHILDHOOD.
I MEAN, I'M STILL A SOFTY
FOR A MELTING PATTY OF GOOD,
RARE, MEAT, WITH, YOU KNOW,
SOGGY BUN, AND I HAVE
TO ADMIT I LIKE
DIJON MUSTARD NOW.
AS A KID, I THINK I
WOULD HAVE LIKED IT, TOO.
I WOULDN'T HAVE CARED IF IT
CAME FROM FRANCE OR WHEREVER,
IT'S JUST THE TASTE YOU
GO BY, NOT THE HERITAGE.

Richard says BUT AS A KID, YOU HAD
REALLY, HOW CAN I PUT THIS,
COMPULSIVE HAMBURGER HABITS.

John says WATCH OUT WHO YOU
CALL COMPULSIVE.
I LIKED THEM.
AND IF YOU LIKE
THEM, WHY STOP?

They both chuckle.

Richard says STOP AT HOW MANY, JOHN?

John says OKAY, MY RECORD WAS EIGHT.
BUT IT WAS AN
OUTDOOR BARBECUE.
YOU KNOW, YOU'RE STANDING UP.
I'M SURE YOU'RE BURNING A
LOT OF CALORIES STANDING UP
WAITING FOR THE
NEXT ONE TO COME.
SO YOU'RE ALLOWED A FEW MORE.

Richard says THESE WERE FULL SIZE, THOSE.
THESE WEREN'T THESE LITTLE
THINGS THE AMERICANS
CALL SLIDERS.

John says POCKET HAMBURGERS, NO
THEY WEREN'T MINGEY,
ROLL AND WRAP BURGERS.
THESE WERE TWO-HAND
HAMBURGERS, RIGHT?
AND THROW ON THE ONIONS AND
THE KETCHUP AND THE MUSTARD
AND THE RELISH,
AND ANYTHING ELSE.
MAYBE SOME MELTED CHEESE.
BUT HARD TO HIT EIGHT WHEN
YOU'RE DOING MELTED CHEESE.
I'VE GOT TO ADMIT.

Richard says NOW, WERE YOU ABLE TO FIND
THE BURGERS OF YOUR DREAMS
IN TORONTO IN THOSE DAYS?
OR DID YOU SOMETIMES
HAVE TO GO ABROAD?

John says WELL, THERE WAS A PLACE
CALLED FRAN'S IN TORONTO,
STILL AROUND, WHERE I
WOULD GO RELIGIOUSLY.
I ALWAYS USED IT AT THE END OF
MY EXAMS AT SCHOOL BECAUSE I
WENT TO A DOWNTOWN SCHOOL.
WHEN EXAMS WERE OVER, I'D
MARCH IN, IT WAS A RITUAL, AND
I'D ORDER THE KING SIZE
HAMBURGER, WITH FRENCH SIZE,
CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE, HOT
FUDGE SUNDAE, BUT OKAY.
THEY WERE GOOD.
PARTLY 'COS YOU WOULD GET
A DOUBLE BURGER, RIGHT?
SO YOU NEEDED FOUR
HANDS FOR THAT ONE.

Richard says AND IT SQUIRTED EVERYWHERE,
WHICH IS PART OF IT.

John says WHO CARED?
WHO CARED?
BUT I THINK MY DEFINING
EXPERIENCE WAS WHEN I WENT TO
DETROIT WITH MY PARENTS, AND
WE WERE GOING TO GO TO THE
TIGERS GAME, SEE AL KALINE
PLAY, ALL THE HIGH POINTS, AND
OUR MOTEL WAS RIGHT BESIDE A
PLACE CALLED THE
ROCKING CHAIR BUTTERY.
AND THIS WAS GOOD ALREADY
BECAUSE WHEN YOU SAT DOWN AT
THE COUNTER THEY HAD CHAIRS
THAT ROCKED, SO THAT WAS
ALREADY SPECIAL.
BUT THEY HAD BURGERS NAMED
AFTER THE U.S. PRESIDENTS.
AND AS A CANADIAN, YOU KNOW,
LOOKING OVER THE BORDER,
KIND OF ADMIRER OF U.S.
CULTURE, EVEN AS A KID,
I HAD TO BE
IMPRESSED BY THIS.
SO I ORDERED THE ABE LINCOLN
BURGER AND, YOU KNOW, TO BE
HONEST, I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT
DIFFERENTIATED ABE FROM,
SAY, WOODROW WILSON.

Richard says IT WAS AN HONEST BURGER.

John says WOODROW WILSON, YOU JUST WANTED A PIECE.

Richard laughs heartily.

John says I DON'T KNOW.
I CAN'T DO IT.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, WITH A
CHERRY COULIS, SOMETHING
LIKE THAT.
ABE LINCOLN,
HONEST ABE BURGER.
THAT WAS PROBABLY IT.

Richard says THE NIXON BURGER.
THERE'S 15 MINUTES
OF IT MISSING.

John says I'M NOT LYING TO YOU.
BURGER WILL BE HERE
IN FIVE MINUTES.

Richard says BUT IT WAS AT THIS PLACE --

John says THE ROCKING CHAIR BUTTERY,
AND I'D GO FOR BREAKFAST
BECAUSE TO ME, BURGERS WERE
SOMETHING YOU ATE THREE,
FOUR, FIVE TIMES A DAY.
YOU STARTED THE DAY WITH THEM.
AND YOU COULD DO THAT
IN THE STATES, RIGHT?
ON VACATION, THEY STARTED
SERVING YOU AT SEVEN
IN THE MORNING.
WHY NOT HAVE A BURGER?
WHO WANTS A OMELETTE WHEN YOU
CAN HAVE A BURGER, RIGHT?
OMELETTE IS KIND OF A STOPGAP
UNTIL THE BURGER COMES.

Richard says SEE, I IDENTIFY TOTALLY
WITH YOU ON THIS.
BUT WAS THIS EARLY PASSION FOR
BURGERS, YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO
CHANNEL IT INTO MORE
RESPECTABLE AREAS, ALTHOUGH
YOU STILL LIKE THE BURGER.

John says YEAH, I GUESS THIS IS WHERE
COMPULSION COMES INTO IT.
I CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, SHIFTED
THAT COMPULSION TO MANY
OTHER THINGS.

Richard says WHAT OTHER FOODS HAVE CLAIMED
YOUR COMPULSIVE ATTENTION
OVER THE YEARS?

John says WELL, LET'S START WITH ALL
OF THEM, AND THEN BACK OFF
A BIT.

Richard says OKAY, WAIT A MINUTE, WAIT
A MINUTE, I'LL GO AT THIS
THE OTHER WAY.
WHAT DON'T YOU LIKE TO EAT?

John says HMM...
STEAMED VEGETABLES
REALLY GET ON MY NERVES.
AND I'VE GOT A DAUGHTER
WHO IS ADDICTED TO
STEAMED VEGETABLES.
BASICALLY, ANYTHING MY
CHILDREN EAT, I DON'T LIKE
AT THIS STAGE.
AND THEY DEFINE THEMSELVES
BY ANYTHING I LIKE.
SO WE'VE GOT A HEAD
TO HEAD ENCOUNTER.
ALL KIDS ARE GOING
TO DO THIS, RIGHT?
IT JUST HAPPENS TO
BE FOOD IN OUR CASE
THAT THEY REBEL AGAINST.

Richard says YOU ALLUDE IN YOUR BOOK TO
YOUR FONDNESS FOR CHEESES SO
PUNGENT THAT THEY CAN DRIVE
ANY TEENAGER FROM A ROOM.
YOU MUST BE SPEAKING FROM
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

John says I DON'T EVEN NEED THE CHEESE
TO DRIVE THE TEENAGERS
FROM THE ROOM.
MY VERY PRESENCE WILL DO IT.
BUT YEAH, I MEAN, A GOOD
STINKY CHEESE IS A PRETTY
AMAZING AND POWERFUL THING.
AND I GUESS I'VE TENDED TO
LIKE ANY FOOD THAT'S A BIT
EXCESSIVE, ONLY BECAUSE OUR
CULTURE HAS DECIDED WE HAVE
TO PULL BACK A BIT.
THAT REAL GOURMET DINING IS
KIND OF MASHED POTATOES,
WITH MAYBE A HINT OF GARLIC.

Richard says SOMETHING REALLY RICHLY
FAVOURED AND TEXTURED.

John says YEAH.
I LIKE STRONG FLAVOURS.
IF WE EVER GOT INTO WINE, I
LIKE A GOOD BRAWNY ZINFANDEL
WITH KIND OF OVER THE TOP
FLAVOURS BECAUSE YOU CAN
ALWAYS BACK OFF A BIT, BUT
RESTRAINT IS, I THINK, ONE OF
THE SINS OF OUR CULTURE.
WE'RE TOO NERVOUS.

Richard says NOW, THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES,
JOHN, THAT RESTRAINT MIGHT
HAVE DONE YOU SOME GOOD.
AND LET US TALK ABOUT,
PERHAPS, WHY JOHN ALLEMANG IS
NOT A DIPLOMAT TODAY.

John says I WONDERED IF WE WERE
GOING TO GET INTO THAT.

Richard says THIS IS REALLY BEING
QUITE CONFESSIONAL.
THIS IS THE JERRY SPRINGER
ON CANADIAN ART SHOWS HERE.
YOU WERE GOING TO BE A
DIPLOMAT, WEREN'T YOU?

John says WELL, I HAD IT IN MY HEAD
THIS WAS SOMETHING I COULD DO.
AND BASICALLY, WHAT DESTROYED
ME WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE MY
INTERVIEWS AND TESTS,
I WAS IN ENGLAND.
I WAS A STUDENT IN ENGLAND.
AND I CAME DOWN TO LONDON TO
KIND OF PREPARE MYSELF BECAUSE
THE INTERVIEWS WERE BEING
HELD IN THE HIGH COMMISSION
IN LONDON.
AND I WANDERED OFF LOOKING FOR
A MEAL, AND ENDED UP IN SOHO,
WHICH ANYONE WHO KNOWS LONDON
KNOWS IS A GREAT PLACE TO
FIND RESTAURANTS.
I WAS DOING A BIT OF WORK AS
A CORRESPONDENT FOR A FOOD
GUIDE AT THAT POINT.
SO I'D ALREADY HAD A BIT OF
THIS OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE
DISORDER CHANNELLING ITSELF.
AND I FOUND MY WAY, YOU KNOW,
I DIDN'T WANT TO SPEND A LOT
OF MONEY, I FOUND MY WAY TO A
PLACE CALLED THE GAY HUSSAR.
NOW, I KNOW WHAT
YOU'RE THINKING.

Richard says NOW, THIS WAS LONG ENOUGH AGO
THAT IT DID NOT MEAN IT WAS
A HUNGARIAN WITH A
COLLECTION OF SHOW TUNES.

John says NO, NO, NO.
ALTHOUGH, YEAH, THERE WAS
A BIT OF KIND OF AUSTRO-
HUNGARIAN MERRY WIDOW KIND
OF QUALITIES TO IT THERE.
KIND OF ON THE SOUNDTRACK.
IT WAS A HUNGARIAN RESTAURANT.
I THOUGHT IT WAS AFFORDABLE.
I KNEW A BIT ABOUT IT.
AND I READ THE PRESS
CLIPPINGS OUTSIDE.
IT WAS A PLACE WHERE...

Richard says SARAH WAXMAN HAD LIKED IT.

John says WELL, THE EQUIVALENT.
NO, THE BRITISH RESTAURANT
WRITING WAS A LITTLE MORE
ALL ENCOMPASSING.
THEY WOULD WRITE ABOUT THE
POLITICIANS WHO DINED THERE.
AND IT WAS THE FAVOURITE
RESORT OF THE LABOUR PARTY AT
THAT POINT, THIS WOULD BE IN
THE '70s, WHEN THE LABOUR
PARTY REALLY WAS
THE LABOUR PARTY.
YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T THE TONY
BLAIR KIND OF COOL BRITANNIA,
YOU KNOW, SELLOUT KIND
OF ANTISOCIAL STUFF.
THIS WAS THE REAL STUFF.
AND IT WAS EASTERN
EUROPE, SO THAT WAS GOOD.
IT WASN'T FRENCH.
THAT WOULD BE WHERE
THE TORIES WENT.
IT WAS HONEST, WORKING MAN'S
FOOD, EXCEPT IT WASN'T.
BECAUSE THE HUNGARIANS ARE
THE WORLD LARGEST PRODUCER OF
GOOSE LIVER AND FOIE GRAS.
PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THIS, BUT
THEY SUPPLY THE FRENCH WITH A
LOT OF THEIR FOIE GRAS.
SO YOU COULD GET FOIE
GRAS ON THE MENU.
I DIDN'T QUITE HAVE
THE BUDGET FOR THAT.
I WENT IN, SAT DOWN.
THE GAY HUSSAR OF THE NIGHT
SAID, YOU KNOW, MY NAME IS
RICK, AND I'LL BE
YOUR GAY HUSSAR.
AND I KIND OF BLINDLY ORDERED.
I SAID, I DON'T KNOW, I'LL
HAVE THE PLATE DU JOUR, WELL,
THAT ENDED UP BEING WINE SOUP,
WHICH WAS KIND OF INTOXICATING.
ROAST GOOSE.
THIS WAS COLD WEATHER.
WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS.
I DON'T KNOW IF YOU'VE EVER
HAD THE TRANSYLVANIAN WOODEN
PLATTER, BUT IT WAS THE KIND
OF THE LONDON EQUIVALENT OF
THE TRANSYLVANIAN
WOODEN PLATTER.
MEAT, AND MORE MEAT.

Richard says ABOUT AS MUCH PROTEIN AS MANY
THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES EAT
IN A YEAR.

John says AND I THINK THE DESSERT WAS A
SELECTION OF PANCAKES, I THINK
APRICOT AND CHEESE PANCAKES.

Richard says ANY ROBUST HUNGARIAN WINE WASHING --

John says WELL, SINCE YOU ASKED.
THE WAITER SAID, WOULD
YOU LIKE SOME WINE?
AND ME, I WANTED TO BE A
DIPLOMAT, I FIGURED YOU HAVE
TO BE SOPHISTICATED.
YES, I'LL HAVE SOME WINE.
IT CAME, AND IT WAS A CARAFE.
AND IT WAS A LITRE CARAFE,
KIND OF UP TO THERE, AND OUT
TO THERE.
AND YOU DIDN'T WANT TO LOSE
FACE IN THIS SITUATION.
SO I DRANK, AND I DRANK,
AND I DRANK, AND I DRANK,
AND I DRANK.
AND THE NIGHT WAS YOUNG, AND I
FINISHED IT, AND THEY BROUGHT
ANOTHER CARAFE, AND I
DRANK A BIT MORE OF THAT.
AND I KIND OF STUMBLED BACK TO
MY HOTEL ROOM, BARELY WOKE UP
THE NEXT MORNING.

Richard says WAIT A MINUTE,
LET'S GO THROUGH.
YOU HAD WINE SOUP, YOU HAD
GOOSE, YOU HAD PANCAKES,
YOU HAD TWO CARAFES OF WINE.
DID YOU SLEEP
PARTICULARLY WELL?

John says NO, I THINK I WAS BASICALLY
TOSSING AND TURNING THE WHOLE
NIGHT LONG.

Richard says SO WITH NO SLEEP, AND A
RESIDUE OF A LOT OF BULL'S
BLOOD IN YOU...

John says I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THIS IS
WHAT YOU WANT IN A DIPLOMAT.
SOMEBODY WHO COULD DEAL WITH
THE HUNGARIAN NEGOTIATORS
AND DRINK EACH OTHER UNDER THE
TABLE AND STILL WAKE UP THE
NEXT MORNING.
I WOKE UP.
THAT'S ABOUT ALL I DID.
AND I FOUND MY WAY TO THIS
VERY, VERY PRIM, RESTRAINED
COLLECTION OF
CANADIAN DIPLOMATS.
ALL OF THEM LOOKING DOWN THEIR
NOSE AT YOU JUST BECAUSE
YOU WEREN'T YET A
CANADIAN DIPLOMAT.
AND THE FIRST QUESTION WAS,
I DON'T KNOW, WHO IS THE
PRIME MINISTER OF FRANCE.
I GOT IT WRONG.
I CONFUSED IT WITH
THE PRESIDENT.
THEN THEY MADE ME PLAY
ROLE-PLAYING GAMES WHERE I HAD
TO KIND OF EXTRICATE MYSELF --

Richard says AND BE A GAY HUSSAR.

John says YEAH, YEAH, YOU'RE LOCKED
IN A ROOM WITH A GAY HUSSAR,
HE PUTS THE MOVES ON
YOU, WHAT DO YOU DO?
DO YOU OFFEND HIM BY REFUSING?

Richard says C.F. BURGESS, YES.

John says AND THIS WENT ON, NOT
JUST FOR AN HOUR OR TWO.
IT WENT ON ALL DAY.

Richard says OH, NO.

John says I WAS BASICALLY PASSED OUT
WHEN I CAME INTO THE ROOM, AND
BY THE END OF IT, I WAS DEAD.
I KIND OF PRESENTED MY EXPENSE
CHIT, HOPING TO AT LEAST GET
MY MONEY BACK.

Richard says RIGHT.

John says AND THIS VERY CANADIAN
DIPLOMAT LOOKED AT IT AND
SAID, YOU SPENT 40 POUNDS
ON A HUNGARIAN MEAL?
WHAT?!
AND THAT WAS IT.
I GOT THE LETTER A FEW MONTHS
LATER SAYING, THANK YOU VERY
MUCH, AND ALL THAT, WE WILL
LET YOU KNOW WHEN WE NEED YOU.
NEVER HEARD FROM THEM AGAIN.

Richard says I CAN SEE WHY YOU WOULD HAVE
GONE FOR HUNGARIAN FOOD.
YOU MENTIONED THE
TRANSYLVANIAN WOODEN PLATTER,
WHICH TORONTONIANS, IN
PARTICULAR, THERE'S KIND OF A
LINK IN TORONTO THAT'S
UNIQUE IN THE WORLD BETWEEN
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
AND HUNGARIAN FOOD.

John says I WENT TO UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO, AND I ALWAYS ASSUMED
PART OF GROWING UP, AND PART
OF GOING TO SCHOOL WAS THAT
YOU, YOU KNOW, WENT TO YOUR
CLASSES, AND AFTER YOUR CLASS,
YOU WENT AND HAD TRANSYLVANIAN
WOODEN PLATTER, OR GOULASH,
OR CHICKEN PAPRIKASH OR, YOU
KNOW, IF THE MONDAY SPECIAL
WOULD BE JUST NOODLES WITH
POPPY SEED OR SOMETHING
LIKE THAT.
AND THAT WAS PART
OF EDUCATION.
THAT WAS ALMOST A
COURSE IN ITSELF.

Richard says IT'S DIFFERENT
IN OTHER CULTURES.
IN NEW YORK CITY, WE USED
TO GO AND EAT REALLY CHEAP
ITALIAN FOOD, PLATES
OF BAKED LASAGNA.
IN VANCOUVER, PEOPLE WOULD RUN
TO THE WHITE SPOT, OR THEY
WOULD GO HAVE, A PARTICULAR
WEST COAST PHENOMENON, THEY
REALLY LOVED BACON AND
PINEAPPLE PIZZAS AT A PLACE
CALLED, YOU GO TO BRITISH
COLUMBIA, YOU GO TO A PLACE
CALLED THE BOSTON PIZZA TO
HAVE PINEAPPLE ON YOUR PIZZA.
AND THAT'S WHAT
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS DID.

John says I THINK WE DID PRETTY
WELL OUT OF THE BARGAINS.
I'M SORRY THE HUNGARIANS HAD
TO GO THROUGH THE REVOLUTION OF
1956 IN ORDER TO GIVE US THESE
FINE DIRT CHEAP RESTAURANTS.
THEY WEREN'T LICENSED.
WHAT YOU DRANK WITH HUNGARIAN
FOOD WAS STRAWBERRY SODA.
THESE GREAT EASTERN EUROPEAN
FRUIT SYRUPS WITH A BIT OF
SODA, AND YOU MIXED THEM
TOGETHER, AND THAT WAS
YOUR TIPPLE.
AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS
THE OBLIGATORY DRINK.
WHEN THEY CAME WITH A CARAFE
AT THE GAY HUSSAR, I THOUGHT,
SOMETHING'S WRONG HERE.

Richard says WHERE'S THE STRAWBERRY SODA?

John says STRAWBERRY FLAVOURED WINE
OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

Richard says NOW, JOHN, YOU
AVOIDED DIPLOMACY.
YOU GOT INTO FOOD WRITING.

John says I'VE AVOIDED SO
MUCH THROUGH FOOD.

Richard says NOW, I ONLY WANT TO
TOUCH ON THIS BRIEFLY, NOW
YOU'RE A TELEVISION CRITIC FOR
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, BUT I
WANT TO TIE IT IN WITH FOOD.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT
THE TREATMENT OF FOOD ON
TELEVISION TODAY?

John says WELL, THERE'S A
LOT OF IT THERE.
I THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING.
TV IS NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY
IN THIS CULTURE.
FOOD IS TAKEN TOO
SERIOUSLY, IN A WAY.
BUT TV HAS FOUND A WAY TO KIND
OF BLEND IN FOOD WHERE IT
REDUCES THE SERIOUSNESS OF
FOOD TO SOMETHING THAT'S COMIC.
FOR SOME REASON,
I DON'T LIKE THAT.
WHEN I WATCH,
WHAT'S FOR
DINNER,
YOU KNOW THE, WELL,
LET'S NOT GET INTO THE
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE
PERSONALITIES, BUT IT'S A
KIND OF LAUGH FEST, RIGHT?
AND THERE'S A PART OF ME THAT
says, YEAH, I GUESS, IT'S
NICE WE CAN BE INFORMAL ABOUT
FOOD, BUT MOST OF ME THINKS,
YOU KNOW, THIS IS SUCH A
GREAT SUBJECT, IT'S SO RICH,
IT EXTENDS BACK FOREVER INTO
HUMAN HISTORY, THERE ARE SO
MANY GREAT STORIES, YOU
CAN DO A TRAVELOGUE.
WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE A JOKE?
WHERE'S THE LAUGH TRACK?
WHY DO WE NEED THAT?
MY HEROES THESE DAYS ARE
THE
TWO FAT LADIES, AS SEEN ON
TVO,
WHO HAVE TAKEN AWAY A LOT
OF THE INHIBITIONS FROM FOOD.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.
THEY LOVE FAT.
I REMEMBER THEM SITTING
THERE GOING, NO YOGURT.
NO YOGURT.

John says THEY'RE VERY, VERY ENGLISH.
YES, THEY PRONOUNCE
YOGURT, YOG-URT.
AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL
TO LOOK AT.
THEY'RE PASSIONATE
ABOUT THEIR FOOD.
IT'S ENTERTAINING, BUT THEY
KNOW THIS IS SOMETHING THAT
CONNECTS INTIMATELY WITH OUR
CULTURE, AND WHO WE ARE,
WHICH IS NOT A JOKE.

Richard says WHICH IS SOMETHING, JOHN,
THAT WE APPRECIATE IN YOU.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LUNCH
IS
WHAT YOU CALLED THE BOOK.
YOU OBVIOUSLY FEEL LUNCH AND
FOOD ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT,
AND THANK YOU FOR IT.

John says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Richard faces the screen and says FOR
DIALOGUE, I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Zucca Restaurant.”

Dialogue. A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1999, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: John Allemang