It’s been a strange 36 hours. Yesterday I was coping with the fact that I had been singled out for praise on a gay chubby-chaser blog; today, I’m in an immaculate, elegant hotel room in Indianapolis, reflecting on the six hamburgers I just ate at Steak ‘n Shake. Is this really the man I want to be? A weirdo that sits in a hotel room thinking about hamburgers, fit to be admired only by fat-fetishists? As Johnson once wrote, “this is not the life to which Heaven is promised.”
The blog, Chubarama, meant well. They found a video of myself and Michael White, my favorite chef and a big man, from The Feedbag. (Citysearch empowers me to go around and find out about things, and when I heard that White was creating a dish using escolar, the king of all fishes, I ran over with a video crew.) Chubarama, which dedicates itself to “the beauty of big men,” said some very nice things about us, which led to a long series of comments on the ‘Bag. “I am confused, is Michael White gay or not?” asked one. “OMG!!! First Neil Patrick Harris now Michael White,” exclaimed another, exasperatedly. One woman rushed to what she supposed was White’s defense, saying, “Why don’t you people grow up. Who cares, I am happy for Michael. I think he’s one of the best chefs in NY.” White, an ex-football player from Wisconsin who is as straight as the day is long, wasn’t especially happy with all this. But neither was I! What was I doing on a blog devoted to “chubs, cubs, bears, and daddies?” This just didn’t gibe with my self image, which is that of a latter-day Merlin Olsen.
Of course, here in Indianapolis on business, I soon forgot the lessons I had learned from Chubarama. Upon learning that there was a Steak ‘n Shake, the greatest of all American burger chains, a block from the hotel, I hastened there with the alacrity of a sailor headed for a Tenderloin brothel. It was everything that I had remembered, and I found myself ordering one hamburger after another. Transfixed with the operational details of how the burgers were flattened on the hot griddle, and calculating the proportions of cheese to meat, I thought only of the hamburger to come, and the segments of the menu I had yet to try. “I want another hamburger,” I told the waitress. “Just keep ‘em coming, huh?” came her kindly reply. Was this a possible reader of Chubarama? Or was she just being nice? As long as the burgers kept coming I didn’t care.
Josh Ozersky is the national restaurant editor for Citysearch, and newly-converted zealot for Team Rachael. He writes Citysearch’s New York food blog, The Feedbag, but will be writing every week here on topics that aren’t all tied up with the comings and goings of the New York restaurant world, his usual sphere of authority. Along with meat, that is — he’s also the author of The Hamburger: A History, coming to you soon in paperback.