Food Notes: Cagey's Bionic Bistro and Genomic Gastropub, Sierra Meth, Sluice, and Mt. Spew
by Herbie Tease
At Cagey's Bionic Bistro and Genomic Gastropub, the motto is “Where the dining experience transcends.”
For 4 minutes and 33 seconds, diners get to “experience” each course as it is delivered to the table. The waiter appears and reminds the diner of what she ordered, and an apparently empty platter is placed before her. The diner is then allowed those 4 minutes and 33 seconds to savor the idea of the dish the chef has very carefully conceptualized for her.
The result is that the diner becomes acutely aware of all of the flavors and smells around her: her dining companions' cologne, the waiter's pitsweat, her own lipstick. She tastes the remnants of whatever she had for lunch. By two or three minutes into the experience, she tastes her own saliva.
The most important experience at Cagey's, however, is that the diner comes stomach-to-stomach with her own inner emptiness, her own deep and nagging want.
Cagey's is neither for the faint of heart nor for the hypoglycemic.
Cagey's is also not for the chintzy: each course is priced separately, and none for under $100, but a full course must be purchased by each diner in order for the table to be served. The chef, who goes only by “JC,” insists that a full course is the only way to properly enjoy the full effect of his subtly crafted dining experience.
It's difficult to say exactly why the new products from Sepsico, Sluice, Mt. Spew, and Sierra Meth, are controversial at all. One wonders what the umbrage of the news media is worth these days--aside from the ease created by prepackaged pseudo-scandal to fill air time with no work on the part of reporters.
Unlike the hidden problem of e. coli contamination or the quasi-edibility of beef filled with pink slime, Mt. Spew and Sluice are upfront about their emetic qualities--in fact, that is one of their primary marketing strategies. Sepsico's entire product line is known throughout Hollywood and the modeling world, as well as at Middle Schools the world over, as the culinary equivalent of Ipecac.
Part of today's popular “postmodern” gastronomic moment, Sluice and Mt. Spew claim to “extend the culinary experience” by “significantly enhancing the sense of 'play' inherent in the beverage experience.” From the advance copy,
Sluice and Mt. Spew are beverages that bring the consumer into contact with the
fundamentally undecidable nature of flavor. What is the flavor of food? Is it the initial taste? The finish as it rolls off the palate? The extra-gastronomical experiences such as eye watering or heat, the burn that we experience from alcohol?
Indeed, it is impossible to say just when “eating” and “drinking” really begin or end. “Tasting” is even more slippery a concept, existing differently in every culture and even within varying contexts within a single culture. Only the least sophisticated among us, for example, would maintain that the experience of even passable wine is limited to what happens on the tongue: from the bouquet to the buzz, wine has long been appreciated for its complexity. The Japanese have recognized similar complexities with drinking tea, and followers of great chesses and beers, coffees and barbecues can wax at length about all that goes into the proper enjoyment of their chosen foods.
But, as Sepsico CEO Jack Yak points out, there's little reason to stop where we normally do: the lead-in to eating, the fragrance of the food as it cooks (or ferments, or both) are legitimate parts of the dining experience, so why rule out the smells and the tastes, the outgassing and the textures--indeed the colors of the chunks--as the food comes back up?
Thus Mt. Spew is meant to be enjoyed as an after dinner (in)digestif, adding its own, unique antifreeze-esque notes on top of the complex ribbon of flavor imparted by your potentially-digested meal upon its return.
The boiled masses may object, but true foodies will immediately see the value of unlocking parts of the meal that are generally only available to bulimics or those too ill to fully appreciate them. Purists and the old-fashioned may also object that the meal, upon regurgitation, is sullied by gastric juices, stomach acids, and the like. There is a natural repugnance to these flavors and scents, they may contend.
But aren't these merely the complaints of the tame, of those trying to justify a lack of culinary adventurousness?
Mt. Spew is priced at a reasonable $20 per bottle.
Along similar lines, then, is Sluice, which, unlike Mt. Spew, is meant to be consumed as a main part of the meal, and, indeed, as part of a larger “alimentary cleansing” regimen.
The experience of Sluice is not limited to its initial taste, but provides access to the olfactory productions of the entire digestive system.
Sluice, Sepsico assures us, contains a gentle, natural laxative that is specially formulated to produce results within the normal time frame of an evening out or a large (five to seven course) meal. Enjoyed as an aperitif or accompanying a meal, Sluice works its effect to create the culminating part of the evening, the gastronomical symphony's final movement, so to speak.
Since elimination has been rendered largely socially private, each $30 bottle of Sluice comes with its own journal, allowing those who enjoy it to write down their reactions upon the release of the evening's (or entire day's) dining. The journal has special places for jotting down any fragrances, “cheek feel,” and sounds as well. Early adopters of Sluice have begun to arrange after-after-dinner parties in which diners compare notes about its varying, and often highly individualized, effects.
Thus cleansed, says Sepsico's head food designer Diane Ria, one's entire digestive system is now ready to more perfectly enjoy meals for up to an entire week.
Sierra Meth, the third and arguably least controversial of Sepsico's new offerings, simply allows a person to stay up all night dining, not that after consuming a large amount, diners will necessarily want to eat.
Its combination of caffeine, vitamin B12, and ephedrine is carefully proportioned to let those whose evenings out combine dancing, walking from restaurant to club to coffeehouse, all on the modest portions provided by many of today's gourmet establishments.
Particularly for those new to the foodie scene, who might be used to subsisting on calorie-rich salads and energy drinks, the lifestyle can seem a little light, and one's motivation may begin to flag. A single bottle of Sierra Meth will handily change that equation, letting the diner subsist for several days on only the foam so popular among the molecular set.
Its effects being so powerful, Sierra Meth is priced at $120 a bottle, and those who use it are made to sign a waiver absolving Sepsico from liability for compulsive future purchase of the product.
Sierra Meth is guaranteed not to promote tooth decay.
Sepsico CEO Yak has few illusions about his new products being anything but exclusive. Clearly, not all who eat are ready for quite an extensive expansion of what heretofore might have been limited to “dinner.” But for the hardcore foodie, there is no reason not to embrace these new products in order to unlock the pleasures of food hiding behind the traditional curtains of disgust.