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The Birds & The Bugs

April 11, 2017

Food. It’s all about the food. Except for when it isn’t.

Years ago I was criticized for only evaluating restaurants based on the output from the kitchen and not paying appropriate attention to the physical trappings of the experience. It’s never been true. I’ve always payed attention to the details.

I asses the weight, quality, and design of the utensils. I care deeply about the choice of glassware and the occasional but unfortunate presence of seams on its stems. I see dust in places where people never think to look. Seriously people, it’s hiding in plain sight.

Right now, the weather is finally warming up, so I wanted to take a few moments and talk about eating outside. Mostly because the promise of outdoor dining is so lovely. But in my experience, especially in the Capital Region, it leaves a lot to be desired.

To be fair, the worst thing to happen while I was eating outside was during a brunch in California. We were eating by the water, and even though there were umbrellas to shade us from the sun, a seagull pooped on my head.

True story. Mrs. Fussy was there to see it. And I still remember how warm and squishy it felt on my skin. So gross. But that was clearly a fluke occurrence.

Bugs are a much more common problem. Just last night, it was so gorgeous outside, that we decided to have our Passover seder al fresco. But even on this first nice day of spring, there were a few mosquitos who thought it might be fun to join the party as day turned to dusk.

I hate mosquitos. It feels like either they are attracted to me more than most people. Either that, or I just tend to notice them more.

Here in Albany and the surrounding areas, we’re huddled away inside for so much of the year that whenever there’s a chance to eat outside, it’s mighty tempting. But most of our eating places aren’t designed for these rare occasions. As such, it’s not uncommon for outdoor seating areas to overlook the parking lot or the street.

Personally, I don’t find these options to be all that appealing.

Even when I ate outside at The French Laundry, and we were in its gorgeous garden where chefs were out picking the most perfect specimens of plants for us to eat, the bugs were a nuisance.

It is probably not surprising that I’ve never been a great outdoorsman. The appeal of eating outside isn’t lost on me. I get it. The smell of the spring air, is intoxicating right now. But the comforts of the climate controlled indoors is where I am happiest.

On one warm evening, I remember being in Ala Shanghai, and feeling the cool comfort of air conditioning on my skin. Had it not been for that, the soup dumplings might not have made it onto our table, because I’ve never been one for hot soup in warm weather.

Really, I should talk to my exterminator about killing all the rest of the bugs in my backyard. It would be great to be able to enjoy the deck more often in the summer. But bugs. I hate them. And don’t even get me started on birds.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. EPT permalink
    April 11, 2017 11:44 am

    I totally agree with you about the bugs. What surprises me though is that the French Laundry hasn’t figured out a way to eliminate the bug nuisance. Don’t know which is worst, bugs or those electric bug zappers, zapping all the time.

  2. Pam C. permalink
    April 12, 2017 2:15 pm

    Daniel, one word, and it might not be politically correct…DEET.

    • EPT permalink
      April 12, 2017 6:35 pm

      If I have to apply DEET to enjoy an outdoor meal I’ll pass.

  3. albanylandlord permalink
    April 14, 2017 9:05 pm

    Here’s your solution to the outdoor mosquito problem: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/science/a-low-tech-mosquito-deterrent.html

    You’re welcome…

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