Which End Is Up?

A couple good things have come out of the recession, when you stop and think about it.

Some of the high end restaurants trimmed their prices, for one thing. Prix Fixe menus have become the rage. Places like Blue Collar Bar and Kent Rathbun's new place celebrate the depression era 'blue plate special'--essentially a pre-McDonald's value meal. And several of the snootier venues now welcome a jeans and t-shirt crowd.

Even before talk radio traced our economic collapse back to Obama (and coincidentally uncovered a plot to turn us into socialists, like those freedom-hating Canadians), an ugly trend emerged--one that a financial crisis only seems to encourage.

That's right, I'm talking about sliders.

Nothing against miniature sandwiches, mind you. It's just that the word has no place on an upscale restaurant menu...unless, of course, you prefer to associate fine dining and the sudden, rapid functioning of the bowels.

You see, most people who look into such things claim "sliders" began as a derisive term for those greasy little White Castle burgers--as in, "slides right in, slides right out." Another insulting name attached to the chain, "porcelain palace" alludes to the same internal function. Those given to cringing over public discussion of diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems blocked the concluding phrase from their minds and focused on the "slides right in" part.

A little better--although for high end kitchens the thought of cooking hunks of meat so small and oily guests can swallow them whole, the improvement is only marginal.

Now the folks at White Castle were a smart bunch. In order to defuse the situation, they adopted the nasty bit of slang, renaming the mini-burgers "slyders" (using a 'y' for trademark purposes). Eventually the name-slinging fizzled and people began to accept the term.

Guess Americans were no less gullible to marketing then.

Still, it seems odd that the better restaurants hasten, these days, to celebrate any of this by placing 'sliders' on their menus. Part of this has to do with the continuing 'small plates' trend. The economy makes lower-priced items more appealing, as well. But I'm concerned with the mental image. I mean, should Nana come out with roasted pheasant gut bombs? Should we exchange fart jokes with our waitress at Aurora? Maybe establishments should rename their meat-carving areas "constipation stations."

Why not? Once we've embraced sliders, there's no reason to hold back.

Just to reiterate: Nothing wrong with a menu including mini gourmet sandwiches. Just maybe drop the gastrointestinal angle.