Food critic Carole Sugarman in disguise.

This is not a blog post about parking. This is a blog post about eating.

And eating and eating and eating until you do not think you ever want to eat anything ever again. I’m not referring here to having an eating disorder, or to entering a contest to see how many hot dogs you can shove down your throat. I’m talking about having lunch with the food critic of this magazine, which I thought would be edifying, somehow, a tidbit I could casually weave into conversations to impress my friends. Perhaps, too, I would learn some food secrets along the way, like what, exactly, is foie gras. I might also casually toss out a French phrase as we studied the menu and then say something like: I’ve heard the sous-chef comes from one of the finest restaurants in Alsace! Or, shall we order an aperitif? That way I might sound sophisticated enough to be dining with a food critic, even though I’m not. Plus, we weren’t going to be eating anywhere particularly fancy. Or French.

Before I could do any of that, however, I’d first have to address the problem of the crown that fell into the sink that morning while I was brushing my teeth, because in order to have lunch with the food critic, I was going to need to chew. Although I am not one to create a lot of drama, generally, it was going to take some doing to get a dental appointment that morning. I don’t recall exactly what emergency I may have invoked, but they squeezed me right in. Then, after the dentist had repaired my crown, he asked what it was I was doing that required the urgent appointment.

“I’m having lunch with a food critic,” I said. This created a lot more excitement than I would have anticipated. Everyone in the office was abuzz, as if I had said I had just been invited to the Oscars. I suppose this makes sense, because the essential purpose of dentistry is to fortify teeth. And the essential purpose of fortified teeth is to chew food. And here I was, about to masticate with someone who is a local food celebrity.

When I arrived at the restaurant with my tooth glued back in place, the food critic had already secured a table. I settled in across from her, careful to act nonchalant because apparently being a food critic is like being a spy and you need to create a cover, like you are not a food critic and a person who might one day write a blog post about having lunch with a food critic, but rather just two lunching ladies who are about to order truly absurd amounts of food.

Naively I set to work studying the menu and identified a thing or two that looked good. That was before I realized there was little choice involved; I was going to have to eat what she said we had to eat, i.e. dishes that the restaurant was known for. Unfortunately this included foods I do not especially like. And more to the point, this included foods that do not normally belong on the same table. Who eats mussels and pork and tacos and salad and chocolate pudding. For lunch? But since I was a guest of the food critic I felt I ought to eat. And eat and eat and eat. And then I realized I was not really a guest of the food critic, so much as a victim. Someone gullible enough to think this might be fun. Truly I ate until I thought I was going to be sick and I confess I nearly was.

The good news is that I like the food critic a lot. The bad news is she’s suggested we have lunch again, soon.