EAT YOUR HEART OUT AND SAVOR THE TASTE
How I Lost A Long War After Winning All The Battles
By: Carlos Herrera
If you read more than one thing written by me, you don’t have to be a Harvard grad to figure out that I contradict myself all the time. I bash people who are food snobs, yet I love eating sushi on balconies. I don’t like traditions at dinner tables but I’m as strict as a Marine drill sergeant when it comes to manners. I also tweeted recently that SBE restaurants and hotels are where class goes to die, but I ate at their biggest money-maker, Katsuya, on Saturday night. My friend Alex just moved to LA from that city where that Jason Lee and Selma Blair movie took place, in the Pacific Northwest, and his long distance girlfriend came to town to visit. He wanted to take her out to sushi and he invited me to join. I scrambled to find a date and came up with nothing. If cars only had three wheels, I’d be like Ryan Gosling in Drive so it wasn’t a big deal.
Ten minutes late for the reservation and I’m smoking cigarettes next to a crew of valet guys, a $500,000 dollar Rolls Royce with Justin Bieber’s new album, Believe, blasting in my ear. Alex strolls around the corner in plaid with his girlfriend and we sit down for dinner. The first time I went to Katsuya was in Brentwood with an intern from the PR firm I worked at. Friend zone. The second time was with two obnoxious blondes that I met in Nevada. The third was tonight. I vowed never to go back because one of the former managers had some loose connection to a girl I liked who didn’t whatever me back. But here I am. The self-proclaimed “anti-foodie” that I tattooed in my brain for a morale boost when I (often) need it. Priding myself on taco trucks and over-priced Jewish delis, and I’m eating at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. In the golden age of cinema it was the center of the universe. Fast forward a little bit and it’s a crime zone where the LAPD won’t turn on their headlights to avoid gunfire. Bring it in for the 21st century and the W Hotel is erected in the city’s efforts to make Hollywood Blvd a family place like Giuliani did Times Square. They have a long way to go.
Enough, already. I really enjoyed the food. It was actually good. Why wouldn’t it be? It only put SBE on the map. Do you honestly think just because E! Network and Alta Loma Productions set half their reality TV show scenes there, that that’s what made it famous? No. It’s because the food tastes fucking good. The rice cakes with spicy tuna on top were delicious. 14 dollars for 4 rice cakes with some of Japan’s best and least-nuked tuna on top – I’m 100% in, every time. Even the simple California rolls are great. I’ve eaten California rolls from Ralph’s, Pavilion’s and Katsuya and I’m going to say that this takes first prize. We also ordered the spider roll which is just a bunch of seafood and avocado thrown into a roll. It’s what I imagine Japanese country people eat at the end of the week. This is all great but here’s the best part: I’m enjoying myself. I’m having conversations with two interesting people. I’m slowly eating my food and letting my taste buds do their thing. I’m polite to the waiter and I’m staring at the art on the wall – of a Geisha’s eyebrows. I’m having one of those things that you’re supposed to have when you just let yourself have it: a good time.
Later that night I met Alex and his girl back out and we sat down at Bar Marmont. We ordered fries in a sea of vodka and a beach of cocaine. That’s a real attractive thing to do. Order fries at 12:30 am at a hotel next to actual super models and see what kind of looks you get. The same ones you’ve been getting all night. None. The Shazam app on my iPhone wasn’t giving me the song info I needed for the cheat-on-your-wife remix that was playing so I got antsy. The fries were good, so was my water, and I’m out.
So, why am I so bitter? Why do I care where people eat and their opinions on it? Who the fuck cares? I do, for some reason. That reason is embarrassing and simple. It’s because food was the one thing that separated me from a group of people that I wanted the acceptance from. The not-so-funny thing about it is that I already had it. But in my brain, I was outcast and immature because I liked going to Wendy’s off La Brea. Driving-home-nuggets for 99 cents? Yes. Sit around and talk about grown-up stuff while eating kale, seaweed wrap bullshit salad for 39 bucks? I’d rather drink Frosty’s with trannies.
Why do I care when people from New York tell me how much they hate Los Angeles while we’re walking down Sunset Blvd? Because it’s easy. And that’s why I’m changing. I do a lot of things just because they’re easy (insert easy joke that the reader can make on their own), but I’m over bashing foodies. I made fun of it for years because I didn’t understand it like people saying Prometheus is bad. That movie was made by artists who are so good at what they do, they wouldn’t hear you if you were standing in front of them with a bullhorn. It’s easy to make fun of people for caring about something. Just because I don’t admire what they do, doesn’t mean the people are bad. It just means their taste is, and that’s none of my business. If I see pictures of your dumb breakfast that your live-in boyfriend made on Instagram- insta-unfollow. If you “check in” on Facebook to a wine bar and comment “With Nancy. OMG love the earthy-tasting, nut-flavored fucking wine here”- scroll over. No big deal. Serenity now. I’m also not super into baseball. So do I berate people who talk about the Dodgers? No. I like lying down in movie theaters and blowing O’s with cigarette smoke. My Google search results range from “Coinstar locations 90038″ to “Joey Fatone net worth.” At some point I accepted the fact that I’d never be the guy doing the New York Times crossword puzzle over wine in a lame vineyard in Fuck-All, CA population: should’ve gone to Vegas. That was also the same day that I accepted that those people would probably not be close to me no matter how hot the brunettes with bangs are. That was a good day for growth. The next day? Not so much.
The amount of energy I put into making fun of people’s admiration for an elegant environment to eat organic and trendy food legitimately makes me hungry. If not liking something makes me like it then that thing must be more powerful than me. So this is my white flag in the air, surrendering. It’s actually a napkin.
Carlos Herrera is a Los Angeles-based stand-up comedian and writer. A former entertainment assistant from the the age of 19, he has performed at The Hollywood Improv and The Comedy Store, amongst others. Herrera’s thousand page plus library of original features and television are saturated in fast-paced, uncensored true stories and ultra-cynical dialogue that have made him a rising star in the writing community for a while now grabbing the attention of cease & desist letters as well as talent agents and producers everywhere. He just wrapped a docu-comedy pilot for MTV and can be seen late night (in the back) at comedy clubs in Hollywood. Twitter: @cjherrera