Tuesday, May 17, 2011

IEM Session #16.8

Inhuman Eating Machine official rules and guidelines

(Continued from 16.7)

Eating Day: March 19, 2011- one final time

SATURN CAFE- 2175 Allston Way, Berkeley- 10:03pm- Cobb Salad - $9.50

Except for Herbivore, none of the salad session's stops had catered specifically to the nonsensical sensibilities of vegetarians. Herbivore seems to target Berkeley's affluent meat-free populace. They attract a clientele composed largely of socially-conscious middle-aged women who have undoubtedly paid great sums so they can look natural, yet slovenly. The de facto uniform of most of the diners at Herbivore seems to come straight from Chico's. Saturn Cafe, on the other hand, draws a different class of vegetarian. Herbivore tries to look like an upscale place where one could entertain an important cruelty-free potential business client. Saturn, on the other hand, is cut from the same pretentious bolt of hipster cloth as Rudy's Can't Fail. The merits or deficiencies of Saturn's food notwithstanding, I felt more embarrassed within its confines than if I had gone stag to Chuck E. Cheese on a Friday evening.

The polished chrome and naugahyde booths and formica tables at Saturn have become so de rigeur at modern eateries, I can forgive these faux-retro fixtures within their restaurant. In fact, these accouterments have become as run-of-the-mill as the red and yellow color scheme at McDonald's. The look has ceased to invoke any bygone era, the same way the PT Cruiser no longer reminds anyone of a 1930's gangster getaway car. I am less forgiving, however, when it comes to other aspects of Saturn's decor. The walls surrounding the open kitchen are festooned with pro-looking graffiti that was possibly rendered by a dignitary from the local hip-hop culture in an effort to lend authenticity to an establishment that drips with phoniness. To add even more "street cred," another wall at Saturn is emblazoned with a Che Guevara quote, "At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love." Oh brother. That kind of mishegos is just beyond the pale. That dead commie would have taken one look at this place and blown it up by attaching plastic explosives to the dozen or so futuristic, apron-clad mannequin torsos hanging from the wall. To top it off, there are Loteria cards affixed to the surface of the tables; a clear attempt to co-opt "edgy" Chicano culture. If all these gewgaws weren't enough, the wait staff at Saturn looks like the cast of a video for a band that would have sounded dated ten years ago. With the quirky waitresses sporting traditional tattoos and ugly footwear and a clientele heavy on lesbian poseurs, the whole scene is like a bit from Portlandia, but even more unfunny.

I could have gladly ignored all of these sickening embellishments, however, if only the salad wasn't such a fiasco. My family kept a kosher home when I was growing up, so the only way I could enjoy bacon or sausage in the house was by eating ersatz vegetarian analogs, usually products of Morningstar Farm. One would have thought that fake bacon technology would have advanced by leaps and bounds since the 1970's, but the counterfeit pork product on Saturn's cobb salad was identical to the abominations I remembered from my days in grammar school. The strips still had the texture and appearance of a manila folder printed with bacon-esque stripes. The taste is a liquid smoke overdose that continues unabated in one's urine for several days after consumption. From eating at vegetarian Chinese restaurants, I know for a fact that artificial chicken need not call to mind the salty foam matchsticks I found on my salad at Saturn. Other than the fake meat on the salad, the rest of the ingredients (avocado, tomatoes, hardboiled egg, and blue cheese crumbles) were unremarkable and the bowl was a little heavy on romaine, as opposed to the mixed greens. For $9.50, the least they could do is use some fancy greens and pilfer quality fake meat from a Chinese restaurant.

I slogged through the Saturn salad, but due to its smaller proportions, it required only a fraction of the time I needed to polish off its predecessor at Chick-A-Pea. I even made room to taste some of the Turkish Coffee ice cream Kelly had ordered. That stuff was out of this world. I have heard Saturn makes a great milkshake, too, so I might visit this ridiculous place again when/if I do a milkshake session.

When we finally arrived home, Kelly noticed my outstretched abdomen and screamed at me in horror, as if I was suddenly missing a limb. She demanded that I put a stop to this nonsense ASAP, lest I rupture my duodenum. While I understand her qualms with my mission, she must acknowledge my calling- my devotion to you all. Fear not. I will continue this pursuit as long it remains fun and as long as my stomach allows me.

When I woke the next morning, my stomach was in pain like after no other session before. For sheer volume, I reckon the salad session was ahead of all previous outings, although most of the salad ingredients were mostly water. My stomach had been stretched beyond its limits and appropriately sore, but it also felt empty. I had clearly aspirated most of the session's contents in my sleep, either via breath or flatulation. Consequently, I was starving the next morning, especially after emitting a rectal spray that approximated a fermenting bowl of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli. Completion of this session was never in the slightest doubt, especially since there are a few salad purveyors open late in the evening, but the repercussions I experienced were definitely unexpected. In the post Bin-Laden era, only a fool underestimates lettuce.

Actual Cafe

Coming June 14: Inhuman Eating Machine #17- Bibimbap


Geoff said...

oh shit! bibimbap
so much rice...

Jillian said...


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?