Hilbert Muntermeyer was a frustrated man. He had been determined to open his own restaurant since his matriculation into the Des Moines satellite campus of the California Culinary Academy, but was unable to come up with an original idea for one. He moved to New York soon after being expelled from the Academy for touching his “boning knife” to a classmate’s flan, and decided to realize his dream. Hilbert’s trouble, however, was that he found himself at a complete loss to come up with an original idea for a restaurant. The New York restaurant scene was a veritable overstocked pond of grottoes, pubs, bistros, and diners, ranging from an Ethiopian eatery that served actual bags of US relief grain to a gourmet Greek-French-Australian sandwich shop that offered vegemite and escargot in a pita.
One hazy afternoon, Muntermeyer was strolling down 5th Avenue and he bumped into an arthritic old woman. The hag turned and snapped, “Eat me, you pig!” His heart pounded, his face became flush. That was it! That was just what he was looking for. Hilbert Muntermeyer would open a cannibal restaurant and take the Big Apple by storm!
He contacted his old friend Michael Whimplestein about financing the venture and the two agreed to meet and discuss the details. Muntermeyer withheld telling his soon-to-be business partner his idea, saying only that it was going to make him an even richer man.
Whimplestein was truly a great pig of a man. Superficially, he was obese. But it was the man’s porcine personality that made Muntermeyer dislike him so much. It seemed that the man’s gluttony for food was surpassed only by his greed for money and his lecherous attraction to women with speech impediments. But money was money and without it Muntermeyer would be unable to bring human flesh to the good people of New York City.
The two met at a quiet bar on the Lower East side and Muntermeyer ordered them each a cocktail. Whimplestein promptly slurped his down and ordered another. “Start talking,” the pig said.
“In time, my friend,” Muntermeyer replied.
“You want the goddam money or not?” Whimplestein demanded, sweat beading on his forehead. He always sweated profusely when he talked business.
“It’s a cannibal restaurant. We still have to work out the particulars– pricing, suppliers, what kind of atmosphere we want.”
Whimplestein grinned sweetly and rubbed his hands together. “I like it, I like it. Now let’s just work out some of these concerns and details and we can get this baby going.”
Muntermeyer sensed the man’s excitement and began to unfold his ideas. “I’m debating a few different themes for the place. We could go exotic, call it something like “Caliban’s Cantina,” and have a jungle theme. Maybe an overturned jeep with the wheels running…”
“No, no. I don’t want anything like that; next thing you know the schvarzas will be down here protesting and they’ll close the place down. Good idea otherwise, though. What else you got?”
“What about something more upscale, but kind of fun too, like one of those Benihana places where we can wheel out their dinner on a gurney and have the cook go to work as they watch.”
“I like that a little better but it might make the customers squeamish.”
“I also had in mind something real classy with one of those chic one word names; I was thinking of calling it “Anthro.”
“I like that one: “Anthro.” Now talk to me about where we’re going to get the bodies.”
“No problem– I’ve contacted an executive at Hormel but they only have canned. I want the best, especially if we’re going upscale.”
“Yeah, but you’re talking extra expenses now,” Whimplestein protested.
“I’m a fucking gourmet, goddamit!” Muntermeyer shot back, his voice growing louder and turning the heads of the paraplegic Persian couple at the next table. “Our best bet will be contracting out to a breeding farm. I’ve checked into other sources–the county morgue, euthanized cancer patients–but like I said, I want fresh, and healthy, not some meatless emaciated sicky. Bigger stock, with lots of flesh.” As he said this last, Muntermeyer saw Whimplestein in a new light–so much flesh, so much food. The word pork skipped across his mind.
“And the menu?” Whimplestein asked.
“Leave that to me. The flesh will of course be the staple…”
“But I also want some variety–a pate, maybe a pancreas plate, and something with tripe. We can also do salads and pastas…”
“No, no pasta,” Whimplestein ordered. “I hate pasta–ever since I laughed while eating lasagna and one of those noodles came out my nose. You know how wide those goddam things are? Do you?” He was clutching Muntermeyer’s arm and shaking it angrily. “No restaurant that I invest in will serve it; I refuse.”
“What do you mean no pasta?” Muntermeyer knew that the swine was agitated, but he also knew that no upscale New York eatery could open without a pasta dish.
“I’ll walk out of here right now, and then where will you be?” Whimplestein was firm.
“Alright, no pasta.”
The two men finished their drinks and Whimplestein pledged his support. Muntermeyer spent the next three months choosing a site, overseeing its design, and training his staff. He had spent a good deal of time developing the menu (exhibit A).
Opening night arrived and Muntermeyer was extremely nervous. He knew all the big name critics were there and he did his best to greet them with an air of affability and suaveness, trying to cover his anxiety. Muntermeyer spent the majority of the night in the kitchen making sure all went well, and except for a mistaken order in which a piece of colon found its way into a tripe dish, the night was apparently a success. Whimplestein of course did not help, but rather milled about lazily, getting in the cooks’ way, when he was not eating hungrily, that is.
Muntermeyer finally went home well after closing time but could not sleep. He was so anxious to read the critics’ reviews that he decided to stay up watching foreign tv channels without subtitles and habitually scratching his scrotum.
Just after six a.m. he heard the newspaper thud onto the floor just outside the door to his apartment. He opened the door and tore the paper open, standing in his underwear and panting heavily and beginning to sweat. He turned to the food section and saw the headline, incredulous. “A Very Small Step for Man: New Cannibal Bistro “Anthro” a Flop.” His heart sank, he could not believe it. What could have gone wrong? He continued reading. “Last night’s opening of Hilbert Muntermeyer’s long awaited “Anthro” turned out to be as disappointing as it had been eagerly anticipated. The service was fine, the decor magnificent, and the prices reasonable, one would hardly expect the food to be such a let down. But it was. The dishes were a bit campy for the classy atmosphere–not to the point of being gauche, but just a touch out of place. But the worst of all, the straw that broke this camel’s back, was the conspicuous omission of a pasta dish. We expected someone of Muntermeyer’s culinary prowess would not make so foolish a mistake but unfortunately he did. This will doom Anthro, and Muntermeyer himself, to failure in this city. He might as well not even bother opening tonight for….”
Muntermeyer could not take anymore. Pasta! He knew they needed a pasta but that pig Whimplestein said no! Damn him! Damn him! Muntermeyer shook with rage. Damn that Whimplestein! Kill that man! Stick him like a pig! Make him squeal. Muntermeyer squealed audibly, and was startled when his neighbor Mrs. Mielson passed him in the hall, giggling at the ridiculous Muntermeyer standing in his undershirt and briefs, making pig noises as the paper in his hands trembled.
Muntermeyer returned to his apartment, dressed, and went straight to the restaurant. He knew none of the other staff would be in for at least two hours, with the exception of Whimplestein, who would show up within the hour to begin helping himself to food from the walk-in refrigerator. But he wanted to get to work rectifying the flaw in his restaurant.
Muntermeyer fired up the oven and sharpened his cleaver. Next he began making small inserts for the evening’s menu, adding a new item. As he was clipping the last of these into a menu he heard Whimplestein’s key in the door. He picked up the cleaver and read the insert:
“Special Tonight: Lasagna ala Whimplestein. If you like pasta you’ll love Anthro’s lasagna!”
“Dine with old friends”
Big chunks of pure Hawaiian native, flown in fresh daily, wrapped in ham and served in a dug-out pineapple. A tropical treat from paradise, comes with lei.
A heaping helping of barbecue rump meat right off the range, drenched in our own savory BBQ sauce, layered on an open roll. Your choice of potato or beans. Yee-haa, partner!
This Bangkok specialty comes wrapped in spring rolls with bamboo shoots and carrots and is covered in a peanut sauce. Made spicy or mild to your taste. Great with a Tsing-Ha.