Announcing Suddenly Tacos!

KISSIMMEE, FL — Unholy Retribution Publishers LLP (URP) today announced the publication of its newest title, Suddenly Tacos! ($89.95, hardback, screw-bound), authored by Korbin Minotaur, who styles himself as a justice of the peace in the country of New Salem.

“The title speaks for itself,” said Nim Chimsky, deputy editor of URP, who acquired the manuscript after learning about it in a roundabout way from members of a prisoner work crew who were casing a local playground. “You don’t have tacos and suddenly you do.” When pressed for more detail by this reporter, Chimsky said he had to referee a matkot tournament and hung up the phone.

Two other people who claimed to have read the manuscript but spoke on condition of anonymity offered contradictory perspectives on the content of the new volume. One person affiliated with the publisher said the book is a collection of recipes for how to make tacos out of miscellaneous ingredients, even some non-food items, that one might find “in a junk drawer, under a fridge, in a boy’s pockets, or in a glove box.”

Meanwhile, a source connected to the author opined that the recipes are “purely metaphorical and teach us conclusively that there is no God.”

The book will be sold initially at domestic hot air balloon festivals. It is also available to the library market as an interactive CD-ROM priced at $1,850.

Restaurant Review

Mr. Cornwall’s note: Justice Minotaur submitted the following restaurant review for publication in the New York Times in 1972. No response was received. “The submission was probably stolen by a corrupt mail clerk and published in Tagalog in some foreign rag,” saith Minotaur.

RESTAURANT REVIEW

The corner of Seventh and Broadbent in New York City has been, in the words of de Tocqueville, a “place of much fortune” since Trent Jackson divined maple syrup there a century and a half ago, and the latest manifestation of this good fortune appears to be the opening of John Habsburg’s new restaurant, the Source d’Ichor, which was accomplished with all pomp and circumstance in the early part of last month. Mine was the pleasant occasion to pay obeisance to the new establishment, accompanied by the irrepressible Crooked Shears, a Chicago native who is also my wife, the mother of my adorable twin daughters, Erl and König, and a second-rate classical cellist.

We arrived at “the Source,” as the jet set has it, just before twilight on a Friday that had already been made memorable by my being notified of my father’s acceptance into a mime school in Amherst. We parked the Peugeot in a handicapped space and, faking limps, made our way to the front of the property, where we gazed at the magnificent architecture of the restaurant, a four-cornered wood and concrete structure reminiscent of the Minneapolis mansion where my publisher lives. A gentle stream bubbling mysteriously out of the ground and running into the street just in front of the restaurant (was it the legendary source?) and the cream-colored letters “O-P-E-N,” delicately balanced on a field of scarlet in the upper third of the front door, at once spelled welcome.

The haste with which I scurried down the front walk and opened the restaurant door was exceeded only by the dispatch of the maître d’, who greeted us in the vestibule with a shake of the left hand and called us by our middle names—we were not uninvited. A series of carefully wrought and subtly posed questions told me that his name was Worthington, that he had been with Draper in Pittsburgh before Draper made head chef at Babcock’s, and that he had platooned with Burt Ward in the pivotal role of Robin in the inaugural season of television’s Batman. This last fact did not appear to have gone to Worthington’s head, but indeed seemed to give him a quiet and solemn assurance such as one sees in a man who knows that, were it necessary, he could tie his shoes with his eyes closed. Worthington whispered the names of Burgess Meredith and Adam West with profound reverence, and spoke often and fondly of the jocular nature of Mel Larkin, who, from what I could gather, was either the key grip on the Batman set or Worthington’s green grocer.

Alas it was announced that our table was made ready and we were whisked into the back quarters of the Source, all the while casting glances on the other patrons, which glances were either amorous or embarrassingly timid, depending on whether my wife or I was casting them. Our arrival at the table was contemporary with the advent of our waiter, who exchanged surreptitious pleasantries with the parting Worthington before introducing himself and serving us chilled water. I was intrigued by the curious needlework on his cardigan and his knowledge of Locke and sausage. Not wanting him to get the upper hand, I proceeded to fire, a la Socrates, a series of questions about the history of Paduan rodeo, until he escaped the whirlwind by presenting, with a flourish of the right hand, two printed menus and dismissed himself to go about his other duties.

The light of the neon sign burning outside the window by our table was not so dim as to prevent our deciphering the menu, and what a rich discovery! Ham, soda, beef, potatoes—all availed themselves to us, without qualification, without apology. I was particularly taken with the idea of ordering red wine with buttered cobra, but, though I sometimes wear white pants after Veterans Day, I believe that social mores are more honored in the observance than in the breach, so I opted instead for the boatswain’s platter, against the pleas of my wife. She herself, having discerned that the Source did not discriminate against the serving of traditional breakfast foods at the supper hour, took eggs Benedict, under advisement from a carpenter-patron who had temporarily moved his chair so close to hers that he appeared to be wearing her bandolier.

As we awaited our meal, a sense of anticipation grew in me so strongly that I nearly thought I was once again the eleven-year-old boy who had camped out in a parking lot with his friends for a night waiting in line for tickets to ride a saddled monkey, and I squeezed the bottle of catsup so tightly that Marsha began to whimper. Then was my anticipation satisfied, and in a way I hadn’t dared hope for—the arrival of Habsburg! I thought it was Birnam wood come to Dunsinane, he moved so slowly and deliberately, but then I knew him immediately by the smell of his salve. He bore none of the pomposity one would expect in a man who had made a fortune by manufacturing pairs of left-handed driving mittens. He put us at ease with a barrage of jokes and riddles—mainly about ducks—and by whistling “Greensleeves” in E minor. He had all the charm, mystery, and profundity of a vanity license plate.

When I started to dance with Habsburg the hours began to fly by on unrestrained wing. The cha-cha-cha, the samba, my wife’s jealousy, the waltz (Viennese), Worthington dancing with my wife, my manic jealousy, the rumba, the dinner coming, and dessert (a precocious strawberry glace), the bachata, me dancing with my wife, Worthington and Habsburg’s jealousy, Worthington and Habsburg dancing, my jealousy returning, the waltz again, the Virginia reel, the Balboa, the check, me forgetting to tip, the foxtrot, me arm wrestling the carpenter, my wife’s being subpoenaed, then deputized, my first haiku—everything is to me now only a blur, a gentle, well-scented blur that rouses me softly in the night, and calls me collect from airports, saying “Vive la Source, vive la Source.”

Review: Fortinbras’ Acapulco Adventure

This evening Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall dined at a restaurant called Fortinbras’ Acapulco Adventure, which purports to “reimagine what would happen if Fortinbras the elder, king of Norway, had, rather than being slain by King Hamlet, crossed the Atlantic to ancient Mesoamerica and ultimately arrived in the environs of what is now Acapulco after a long overland journey.” (Who had originally imagined this scenario is not identified.) The establishment also “invites Christians of every nation to celebrate, in cuisine, the triumph of Western Europe over the savage inhabitants.” (Reverse of dinner menu, (c) 1992.)

It was unclear whether a sign on the door was intended to evoke pity or relief on the part of the patron: “No longer associated with Human-T Interregional Pet Hospital.”

The two diners, after being seated on a wheel-less tandem bicycle that had been mounted to a sawhorse, were met by a waiter named George Armstrong Custer Piles who offered a complimentary bowl of baked beans. Minotaur refused, saying he did not “want to be tempted to blow unkind wind later in the evening.” Without looking at the menu, Minotaur ordered the El Presidente Burrito with black licorice as a side dish and lukewarm bactrian milk in a paper cup to drink; Cornwall preferred the roast duck a la mode. To save money, Cornwall ordered no drink, figuring he could rinse as needed with melted ice cream.

Minotaur assessed his meal as follows: “When Hannibal crossed the Alps it was positively not for this dish. I imagined the fare would be fit for the president of at least a medium-size nation but it seemed more tailored to someone with more local talents at best–maybe the head of a guild or even a knitting club. The Christian element was helpful, I must admit; as I imagined the men of Cortes massacring the Aztec it seemed to help me work up the needed frenzy to consume the gargantuan but otherwise mediocre offering. Who knew Fortinbras liked so many carrots in his burrito? I was disappointed that when I hoisted the wrap and bit into one end, so many of the nutrients fell out the other end, like druggies scampering down the fire escape when the police knock at the front. I did not know their policy on leftovers, so I surreptitiously pocketed the escaped remnants and intend to mail them to my cousin in Prague as a birthday gag.”

Mr. Cornwall adds the following observations on his own meal: the fowl was cooked in water, not roasted as promised, and within arm’s reach. This transpired in a large hot tub occupied by a hairy man wearing a knight’s helmet, surrounded by several women in 1920s-era swimming trunks. Though no signage explicitly stated as much, apparently this was the alternative ending imagined to the tale of the Scandinavian monarch. The duck was only one of several deceased animals cooking in the bath water, and the kitchen staff was probably not aware of some of them being in there. After an adequate time in the whirlpool, the bird was prepared by being spun about in a large blender and was served chopped feathers, bill, feet, and all–under the rationale that this is the same way the lion or the bear consumes a bird. The ice cream was not bad.