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All You Can Eat

Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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March 26, 2008 2:10 PM

When it rains it pours

Posted by Nancy Leson

So here's what happens when you're me, and your face is plastered all over the Seattle Times after years of working incognito.

You wake up at 6 a.m., go downstairs and find your husband reading the paper. You look at the front page and see they've used a "Gilroy is Here"-style photo of your heretofore anonymous face, splashing it across the top of the paper as an A-1 teaser. "So?" you ask your husband.

"It doesn't look you," he says. "Who does it look like?" you wonder. "It looks like some 1980s big-haired girl from Kent," he says. Actually, you think it looks like the 1980's big-haired '80s girl from the Classmates.com ads, but it's too early to argue.

Two hours later, you've packed the kid's lunch, dropped him at school and stopped for gas on the way into the office. You spot a familiar Seattle Times newsbox near the door to the gas station store and note that your face (and '80s hair) is clearly visible to all who care to look. You hope the people pumping gas on either side of you don't notice the likeness. And you curse your hairdresser, who swore (as she put the hairspray in your "do" a few weeks back) "It'll be flat by the time they take the picture!" She lied.

You get to the office and everyone stops and says, "Hey! You're out! Loved the photo!" They're talking about the lovely arty shot of you at Le Pichet that ran on the food page, taken by a Times photograher who promised to do his best when you begged, "Make me look like me, only better." Apparently he didn't mind that you were wearing your Marian-the-Librarian glasses on a chain around your neck, but your friend Keely -- who called on your cell while you were pumping gas to kvell about your new job -- couldn't stand them. "What's with the glasses?" she asks. "I always wear them. I can't see up close," you tell her. Everyone's a critic. But as you always say, "only some of us get paid for it." And then you realize. Wait a minute, you're not a critic anymore. Which is fine because. . .

Everyone apparently thinks you've made a good career move and they're excited about your new blog. You find this out when you check your e-mail and view the comments on All You Can Eat. There are a stunning number of missives from people wishing you well, and commenting on your looks. You wish you had time to send a reply to each of them, but you're too busy trying to figure out the blog software, which is supposed to be really easy but isn't, exactly, because you're a Luddite -- with a Rolodex on your desk to prove it.

Then the phone rings, and it's a reader named Tom Paris -- "like the city in France" -- who's called to say he's looking at your photo: the one at Le Pichet where you're eating oysters. "Do you chew your oysters or swallow them?" he asks. You chew. So does he. Then he tells you all about the oyster shack Back East in Buffalo, NY where he lived as a young man. And after all that talk about oysters you realize you're hungry, because it's 1:30 and you haven't had lunch. You think about heading down to Pike Place Market, or maybe the ID, but once in the car you drive around the block from the office and see the sandwich-board on the corner of Harrison and Terry streets. It reads: "Skillet Street Food."

And that's when you realize it's Wednesday. And Wednesday is Skillet day. So you park near the mobile Airstream, and note that the menu-board is missing and they're wrapping things up for the day. So you poke your head inside and ask, "What's cooking?" And the chef who owns the joint, who has never met you in person -- though he's waited on you before -- takes a double-take and says: "Are you Nancy Leson?"

Busted, you order a juicy, rare-ish kobe-style beef burger on a baby brioche bun, served with a mess of crisp dark fries scattered with fresh sage and lots of salt.

You notice that Skillet's chef, Josh Henderson, has a tattoo of the Morton Salt girl on his arm. So you do what any respectable blogger would do: you pull out your digital camera and take pictures. Of the burger. And the tattoo. Which you plan to download onto your computer -- if you can figure out how to do that.


Josh Henderson shows off his tattoo at Skillet Street Food

You're really happy with yourself because now you have two photos of chefs wearing food-art.


Scott Simpson's porky tattoo

And then, because you're me, you think: Wow, what a day! My fingers are falling off from typing, but man, I had fun. But before I get out of here for the day, let me throw this question at you:

What other local chefs have food art tattoos? Give me the who, what, where. And while we're on the subject, if you were going to get a food tattoo, what would it be? Mine would look like this:


Sushi as art: thanks Saito-san!

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Food for Thought | Nancy Leson on KPLU

Listen to Nancy at 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. during Morning Edition, at 4:40 p.m. during All Things Considered and again the following Saturday at 8:30 a.m. during Weekend Edition on KPLU 88.5.

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