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5 Catt. 3: In re Doug the Food Dude

2012 January 18

Opinion of CHIEF JUSTICE JEREMY, in chambers.

In this opinion, I must consider the question of Doug the Food Dude’s (“DFD”) parmesan-crusted salmon over cabana rice, a $9.00 heaping helping of lettuce and “the Dude’s cabana rice” beneath a salmon fillet and a “pineapple mango sauce.” Initially, I was leery of trying this particular dish, for four reasons:

  1. One should never eat any dish whose name contains the word “fiesta” (e.g., fiesta meatloaf, fiesta chicken dinner, fiesta pie, and fiesta fondue). Usually “fiesta” is code for Velveeta, Ro-Tel, and an entire packet of taco seasoning. Usually “fiesta” dishes are billed as a party in one’s mouth. Unfortunately, the party usually turns south and, in my experience, ends in a rather abrupt scurry to the nearest restroom. “Cabana,” while certainly not equivalent to “fiesta,” comes perilously close to “fiesta” in connotation.
  2. I like pineapple. I like mango. However, I am not a fan of pineapple salsa, nor am I fan of mango salsa. As if to taunt me, this dish is topped with a sauce containing both pineapple and mango. God help us all.
  3. Food trucks are very good at many things. I would not be Chief Justice of the Supreme Cart if I did not respect the mobile gastronomic enterprise. And indeed, during my tenure as Chief Justice, this Cart has handed down a good many affirmations of a good many food truck creations. However, the food truck, by its mobile and confined nature, lends itself better to certain dishes over others. My sister said it best: “What I would like to see coming off trucks are the kinds of foods that can be cooked in front of you and are meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011); see also In re Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4 Catt. 4 (2011); In re Sâuçá, 4 Catt. 3 (2011); In re PORC, 4 Catt. 1 (2011);  In re Hula Girl, 3 Catt. 7 (2011). A salmon fillet, while well and good, (1) is not ordinarily cooked in front of you, (2) is not ordinarily meant to be eaten with one’s hands, (3) is ordinarily eaten with a fork, and (4) is not ordinarily eaten while standing up. Thus, this dish, from the outset, fails to meet any single element of our Eat Wonky test for determining whether street food, is, in fact, “street food” as we understand that term.
  4. The Dude is known as “The Dude.” I half-expected an unkempt Jeff Bridges, in a dirty robe and sunglasses, serving me salmon, glugging from a milk carton.

Nevertheless, my clerks informed me that, if I am to sample DFD, I absolutely must try the Dude’s parmesan-crusted salmon over cabana rice. And so, ever faithful servant to the cause of Justice that I am, I did just that.

I really wanted to like this dish, if only because the Dude is such a nice and personable guy. In fact, he is nothing like his Big Lebowski comrade-in-moniker. Even on a drab and drizzly day, the Dude was friendly and exuberant and eager to converse with his customers. Moreover, there was no robe and no milk carton. And so, I’ll begin with a positive: the price-to-quantity ratio. For $9.00, you get a lot of food. A hell of a lot.

So there’s that.

Parmesan Crusted Salmon over Cabana Rice

But now, regrettably, I must pass to less pleasant holdings. As we often do, I evaluate each element of the dish separately, before concluding. See, e.g., In re TaKorean, 1 Catt. 4 (2011).

Lettuce. Lettuce sat in pieces at the bottom of my clear plastic container, beneath the warm cabana rice. Unfortunately, the warm cabana rice caused the lettuce to wilt considerably. The lettuce was at best extraneous and at worst distracting.

Cabana Rice. I am happy to report that a “cabana” dish need not carry the same consequences as “fiesta” dish. The rice was well cooked and sufficiently flavorful. Much to my pleasure, I have nothing negative to say about the cabana rice.

Salmon Fillet. Dry. Quite dry and overcooked, as I expected it might be. Also underseasoned. Non-street food (i.e., food that does not satisfy our Eat Wonky test) is often ill-suited for this milieu. At best, to prepare and purvey non-street food in a street food setting is a considerable risk. In this case, the gamble did not pay off.

Parmesan Crust. Also dry. In my experience, a parmesan crust is ordinarily made from grated parmesan and plays a role similar to flour in the dredging process. Unfortunately, the Dude seems to have used shredded parmesan instead. Parmesan is not particularly a melting cheese, and so the parmesan crust ended up a leathery overcoat.

Pineapple Mango Sauce. As I have said before, I am no fan of pineapple-based sauces, nor of mango-based sauces, and so I am certainly no fan of pineapple mango sauces. I am thus not a good judge of whether DFD’s pineapple mango sauce was, in fact, a good pineapple mango sauce for those who enjoy such things, and so I will reserve judgment.

Though I very much enjoyed the person of the Dude, I did not enjoy his gastronomy nearly so much. Therefore, it is with considerable regret that I must cause this dish to be

REMANDED to Doug the Food Dude for revision. It is so ordered.

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