I should have listened to Anthony Bourdain. But I didn’t, and paid the price. In Kitchen Confidential*, the book that started his ascent to stardom, the wise Bourdian warns us about restaurant food delivery cycles, and how Sundays are affected:
- Restaurants get large food deliveries on Friday, to prepare for the big crowds that day and the next.
- By Sunday, they can have food left over that they don’t know what to do with; in order to sell that food, they make it into “specials”.
As Bourdan himself puts it, “…the chef…orders his fish on Thursday for delivery Friday morning. He’s ordering a pretty good amount of it, too, as he’s not getting another delivery until Monday morning…The chef is hoping to sell the bulk of that fish — your tuna — on Friday and Saturday nights, when he assumes it will be busy. He’s assuming also that if he has a little left on Sunday, he can unload the rest of it then, as seafood salad for brunch, or as a special“.**
Even worse, most chefs do not work Sundays, so the tasty-sounding special on the menu is actually an amateur’s experiment.***
My Kitchen Confidential Mistake
Last Sunday, I was in West Palm Beach, Florida, as my wife’s business trip companion. We decided to have a little date night, and went to this well-regarded restaurant. Lo and behold, there was an ahi tuna nachos special on the menu. Since I like ahi tuna, I forgot all about Bourdain’s wisdom about fish on Sunday and let myself be seduced, and ordered the thing.
What a bad idea. Obviously someone was messing around, experimenting with leftover ingredients, because they mixed raw tuna with tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream, lots of what seemed to be grapefruit (with part of the peels still attached), and some really strong spices.
The result was that the delicate flavor of the tuna was completely overwhelmed, and what was left was a really sour and hard-to-eat mishmash. Just imagine raw tuna and grapefruit put together. I don’t know what they were thinking! Luckily I did not get food poisoning, but it was money in the trash. (The one time I did get food poisoning involved having buffet sushi in Las Vegas, but that’s another story).
No Specials or Fish on Sunday
Unless you really trust the restaurant, be very wary of specials on Sundays. Be extra suspicious of dishes that sound made-up and/or that have fish.
* Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain (Bloomsbury, 2009 (Kindle e-book))
** Kitchen Confidential, pg. 65 (bold added)
*** Kitchen Confidential, pg. 68