Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Prague Post's Dave Faries - A Parody Review

i’m lovin’ it

McDonald's Big Mac consistently lands punches to the palate
Restaurant Review Archives
By Dave Faries*
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
January 29
th, 2008 issue

If you’ve ever gotten drunk, read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then tried to write a restaurant column, you’ll understand what I have to say about my visit to McDonald's.

It’s less “The Great Gatsby” and more “This Side of Paradise.”(1) But a comparison to Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” might be more appropriate (2).

Know what I mean? No? Well, it doesn't matter.

At the Wenceslas Square location, I went straight for the specialty that has brought this restaurant so much critical attention, the Big Mac. As Prague's foremost burger expert (3), I am able to discard personal likes and dislikes in favor of a hard-nosed assessment of this quintessentially American sandwich (4)

Everyone knows it comes with two all-beef patties. However, if my Big Mac had one weakness, it was that the beef was not as grassy as I'd hoped. The meat should speak of freshly cut lawns on a hot summer day.

For example, I much preferred the grassy undertones of the steak at Gott Gallery (5). That was quite different than the almost grassy beef at La Veranda (6). Based on my experience, the filet at Monsoon rates higher on my grassy scale (7). But, I was also very impressed with the organic beef at La Degustation, which was redolent of the great green grass of Argentina (8).

Only true beef lovers and, of course, the more sophisticated restaurant critics, understand the importance of grassiness in a steak. I could write a whole column about it (9).

After the first bite of the Big Mac, I noticed a prick on my tongue. It's a sensation I'm always looking for. But it was nothing like the big prick that came with the freshly cracked pepper at Styl (10). It was more reminiscent of the little prick I had in my mouth after biting into that cod piece at Gordon Ramsay's place (11). Or maybe it was more like Karel Gott's timid prick (12) .

As many are aware, the Big Mac does not have the cloying tomato coulis that is so ubiquitous atop many of the restaurant's other offerings. It does have a so-called Special Sauce, which reminds one of the intricacy of a good mirepoix and indicates grounding in traditional cooking techniques (13). The onions were breviloquent (14). I didn't expect it, despite my exegetic reading of the menu and ingredients posted on the wall (15).

Let's talk about the pickles. These little circles of sourness wield daggers that jab your palate with impunity (16). The lettuce takes full advantage of the furious attack, parrying it with a watery blandness. 

Then, the salt hits you like uppercuts to the mouth that belt your palate with salvo after salvo of salinity. The violence of the toppings is only calmed by cheese (17). In the end, the sesame seed bun grabs them all and wrenches them to the ground (18).

As I see it, the Big Mac is Prague's best burger. It is even better than the Balkan pljeskavice at Mon Ami, which I consider a hamburger, but which laymen bloggers think is crazy talk.

But what do they know? First of all, they probably never worked at a free alternative weekly in Dallas like I have. Second, who can take these no-names seriously? They don't stand behind their work (20).

I do. I'm Dave Faries, dammit.


* The article is a parody. It did not actually appear in The Prague Post and was not actually written by Dave Faries.

However, it's not that different from what he writes. The numbers in the blog post relate directly to the real words of this unintentional master of self parody:

(1) "In his classic The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald cautions readers against the natural human desire to recapture moments past. If I remember correctly, nostalgic reverie has some pretty devastating consequences. Sam Waterston as a neighbor, for one."

(2) "In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty declares that a word 'means just what I choose it to mean — nothing more, nothing less.' Thus empowered, he elects to say 'glory' in place of 'knock-down, drag-out argument' or 'impenetrably' to express his desire to change topics. Clearly, any conversation with the large egg could easily devolve into a confusing mess. U Slavíků, the new restaurant lodged in the space once occupied by Rudý Baron, is a model of such incoherence."

(3) The Prague Post, September 26, 2007, "The Grill of Victory" by Dave Faries

(4) "She understands the importance of accuracy, of discarding personal likes and dislikes in favor of hard-nosed assessment."

(5) "Otherwise, a gentle seasoning hand allows the flavor of beef to step forward — sour, grassy undertones in this case, with very little heft."

(15) "The proprietor, hiding behind the pseudonym 'Brewsta,' makes it clear he’s not a professional. But his entries are fun reading and much more exegetic than the usual blog-stopper stuff out there. I use the word “exegetic” just for Brewsta’s benefit. He took me to task for using “breviloquent” in print."

(16) "As a jjigae (stew), however, the stuff wields daggers — a coal-fire red broth that clutches your palate and begins jabbing away with impunity."

(17) "Yet it still met traditional standards and the mixture of spinach and gorgonzola belts your palate with salvo after salvo of pungent bitterness, calmed only by cream."

(18) "But pancetta is the heart of it — grabbing the bright taste of crushed tomato and wrenching it to the ground, uppercutting herbs with strokes of salt."


Anonymous said...

Hahaha, Brewsta... spot on! You have perfectly parodied Faries. Good job... keep it up!

Pivní Filosof said...

I was going to advise you against posting such parody. I'm glad I haven't done it. It is simply brilliant!!!! You have made my day!!!!
Pity that Faries isn't much of a somebody, because this should be read by the whole world.

Anonymous said...

I think it's idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Wow... Jealous much?

EB said...

Well, the sad truth is that Faries grossly overwrites his reviews. When we read a restaurant review, we want to know what the food is like, what the service and atmosphere are like, when they're open and how much they cost. We are totally unconcerned with how well read the reviewer is. We are unimpressed by how much he is in love with his own prose. We certainly do not want to sit there wondering how on Earth a particular set of adjectives could apply to food. And why he uses "musty" as a good thing, except perhaps for Spanish wine. And how beef tastes "grassy" as opposed to bloody and umami-laden. He might mean grass vs grain, but certainly not grassy like corn on the cob or green asparagus. And we aren't sure how spices plunge through layers of flavor like a flaming B-17. It isn't that I disagree that much with Faries' overall sense of food (though the Vindaloo at Masala being overwhelmed by hot pepper? News flash, it's a Vindaloo.) but he writes like a pretentious whanker and worse, his style interferes with whatever observations about the food he's trying to convey.
The only complaint I'd make about your parody is that parodying Faries is redundant. Nobody setting out to create a parody character of a restaurant reviewer would come up with one so perfect. Have you ever heard "The Sunday Format" on BBC 7? Not even those guys come close.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have to say that reading this makes me feel like I'm back in the third grade. I know both of you, think both columns give good information and think you're both acting like infants. These are restaurants reviews, nothing more, nothing less. And yet you have both turned this into some kind of egomaniacal pissing contest over who does a better job of telling us where to go spend our disposable income. Why don't we just line the two of you up, have you whip 'em out, measure up and be done with it. Move on, please.