Diners at Per Se have their heads too firmly entrenched up their own foie gras-filled asses to notice the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
As thousands march through Wall Street, shouting “We are the 99 percent!” and protesting America’s transformation into an oligarchy, Sam Sifton, outgoing food critic for the New York Times’ styles section, that bohemian bile of bullshit aimed at the other one percent whose heads are too firmly entrenched up their own foie gras-filled asses to notice America’s unemployed millions, devoted his final food column to “the best restaurant in New York City: Per Se, in the Time Warner Center…a jewel amid the zirconia.”
“handsome brown-heud dining room” overlooking
a “gripping view of Columbus Circle and Central Park” offers an all inclusive (aww, how nice!) dinner sampler menu for $295 per person, and a wine listing of thousands with glasses from $15 to $100 and bottles from $70 to $3,000. And if you want a wine not on their extensive list, Per Se is nice enough to offer it for a small $90 service charge. With a “signature starter course of Oysters and Pearls,” followed by “torchon of moulard fois gras” (I don’t even know what that means), “truffle-stuffed fat chicken thigh,” “butter poached lobster melted leeks and horseradish crème fraîche, thin-sliced potatoes roasted in clarified butter, watercress and a lemony red-beet emulsion,” “pressed duck” on “Burgundy truffles,” and “Rabbit with cherry tomatoes and sweet corn, with a wave of frisée and a beautiful swoosh of truffled hollandaise,” it’s no wonder Sifton described his meal as “not food so much as a poem about creaminess, a meditation on brine, a sculpture about the delicious.” That, or he’s trying to win a Pulitzer in pretentiousness (or, more likely, he’s afraid an average middle class American might stumble upon the styles section and that obfuscating metaphor is his way of saying, “not for you; move along”).
With a national unemployment rate of 9 percent, and many more under employed or working multiple jobs for slave wages, and most restaurants struggling too as fewer Americans have expendable income for a $5 burger and fries or a $15 pizza with wings, Per Se requires reservations made one month in advance just to get in the door. Just goes to show that not all Americans are suffering. This American recession is not a shared struggle. We still have plenty of super rich people, with what Urban Dictionary calls “fuck you money
,” hogging the pie. Every night, at 10 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, hundreds of rich socialites eat fois gras and drink Château Margaux, oblivious to the Occupy Wall Street protesters a mile away at 59th and 5th Avenue.
Now I don’t criticize places like Per Se for existing. There’s (obviously!) a market for expensive food I’ve never heard of. And I’m not going to try and make some horsecrap argument by saying the New York Times is hypocritical for covering Wall Street protests on one page and reviewing snooty restaurants on another. There’s no hypocrisy. It’s smart business. By, well, styling its styles section to wealthy urbane snobs, the Times can sell papers and make the necessary money for its hard reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan and Washington and Wall Street. But the rich patrons of Per Se and other extravagant eateries are living proof that there’s wealth in this nation. There might not be enough money to go around, but there’s enough money to help some people out. I don’t know what the solution is (okay, I have some ideas: higher taxes on the rich; universal healthcare), but something needs to be done to help out the other 99 percent. It’d be nice if Per Se and other modern day Marie Antoinettes would let us eat cake, too.