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eating for good

a lovely postcard in my inbox, my actual physical inbox, at work–the tagline is “dining out just got more satisfying”. it’s from an organization called “action for hunger” which wants me to dine out on october 19th at certain new york restaurants. on this day, these certain restaurants will donate up to 20% of their sales to the problem of “global hunger.” my problem with this?

ummm. it should be obvious. unless you are among the completely self-centered crowd that this is targeting. the artwork is a huge tip-off; it’s either the same artist who does those insidious, i mean insipid, “lava life” ads in the subway, or it’s someone trying hard to emulate them. Drawings of hip heterosexual couples in trendy situations with the $20 cocktail of the moment in hand, except the guys always look gay to me. not metrosexual, gay.

anyway, this same couple calls out to me on the cover of the card, exhorting me to go to the same trendy line-drawing restaurant they just left, so that 91% of up to 20% of my check can go to this wonderful cause. the restaurant, oddly enough, is french. there are lots of tables on the sidewalk and a sign advertising “apertifs.” didn’t these people get the memo about things french? i mean, i go to paris every damn year freedom fries or not, so i clearly don’t care. but they are sending this card to a lot of people who poured out their bordeaux in the waning days of 2001. not particularly smart marketing.

so, i suppose, all the right people who spend $100+ every night on dinner in new york will now go on october 19th not to just any restaurant they usually go to, but to certain participatory restaurants so they can feel justified about their habitual overindulgence. and, worse, people who don’t go out and spend $100+ on dinner in new york will now do so, because they are doing something, dammit, about the problem of global hunger.

i went to this organization’s website. it’s–i’m not linking it because i’m not making it any easier for you to actually go there. there on the front page is the obligatory wide-eyed starving black child. hey. how about let’s make one problem worse (racism) to make one problem better (hunger)? after three hundred drill-down clicks, i got to a list of new york restaurants which, i’m happy to report, is pretty thin. maybe most restaurants see the inherent idiocy of this concept, and react accordingly. although, i’m dismayed to see les halles on the list. tony bourdain is getting a piece of my mind. i know he’d agree with me–he probably has no idea that this is happening. various locations of the “aramark cafeteria” are listed numerous times. this would no doubt be the corporate cafeteria in some clueless buildings, though at least they are trying to expand the price range a bit.

i have an idea. why don’t you stay home, have a peanut butter sandwich or, even better, skip a meal, and send a check in the amount you would have spent on you $100+ dinner in new york, or on the $5 lunch in your aramark corporate cafeteria, to a hunger-related charity that deserves it more than this pretentious crappy outfit?

or, if you choose, send this pretentious crappy outfit your check. i don’t care. just don’t go to some goddamn fancy restaurant and spend money on a meal thinking you’ve done something to cure hunger in this world.

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