The Gingernem Experiment
Ginger. I can’t stand it.
Why not? she asks, moving another sushi roll topped with ginger into her mouth.
Like heaven, she says, slicing at a naked pile of the disputed topping with her chopsticks.
Those sticks, why bother?
It’s nice, she says, smiling with an awkwardness usually reserved for flirtatious professors or Terminix men.
It’s just nice … part of the deal I guess.
Like the curly bamboo and Japanese prints?
Most of these people have probably never left the States.
You mean since coming here?
No, says the man with the crooked smile. His friends say he looks like Mr. Rogers with a really bad hangover.
So what then?
I doubt they ever lived in Japan.
She considers this for a moment but her body language theatrics fail her; she is dying for another sushi roll, especially the crunchy crab. In the end, her appetite wins.
You really should try the ginger, it puts a zing in the taste, she says through a mouthful.
I’ve tried it, told you, it smells.
And so does shit.
Listen, she says, have you ever heard of the Gingernem experiment?
Ok, so there’s this group of chefs in New York, all wildly successful in their trade.
What kind of restaurants?
There is a look of irritation in her eye, making her blink in a subtle way, as if to free gnats, instead of words, from the air.
It doesn’t matter, all kinds, Ethiopian, Italian….
I think the details matter.
Anyway, they set up a private dinner business, you know, where you pay to have a chef come to your house and cook a gourmet meal.
And the main guy, I think his name was Victor, he decides to do this experiment with ginger.
He is listening, his eyes on her mouth as she speaks, his brain already registering a punch line for her story.
They decide to serve Gingerbread men for desserts.
So, this is at the end of a seven course meal. Seems odd for such a classy meal, right?
No one ever complained.
Uh huh, you want to order a few more rolls?
No way, stuffed… I’m missing some details here. Point is, they got this write-up from a famous food critic in the city and you know what he wrote?
I’m gonna order a few Californias. What’s that?
He said they’d unlocked the doors of gourmet.
Just that the customers appreciated the touch.
Why not throw in some buffalo wings… put little hats on them?
Maybe people like to feel grounded at the end of a meal.
The man breaks into a laugh … there is nothing funnier to him than the thought of the settling nature of a Gingerbread man, blue sugar eyes blazing on fine China.