Thursday, October 30, 2008


Somewhere in my lower GI tract now reside the remains of no less than seven different animals. I have reason to believe they will still be with me on Election Day. The last 18 hours have been quite a rollercoaster of endurance. Allow me to explain.

Yesterday I helped a friend move, and in return I was treated to an excellent dinner with him and his parents. We went to Churrascaria Plataforma. This was a new experience for me, and one that I ultimately enjoyed, but for a price. If you haven't been to a churrascaria before, I'll explain the system.

We started off at a salad/appetizer bar. This bar had a greater variety of food than I've eaten in the last month. Green salad, chickpea salad, mixed vegetables, cheeses, shrimp, sushi, calamari, beets, etc. I was told to pace myself here, so I did my best. Upon finishing these plates, they were whisked away, and the real fun began.

Each of us had a small disk, one side red, one side green. As long as your disk was green-side-up, waiters would routinely come by offering meat. Meat fresh from the fire. On a sword. They would announce the meat (our first was sirloin), begin cutting a section with an amazingly sharp knife, and you'd take it with the supplied tongs as he finished the cut. This continues with a wide variety of cuts from as wide a variety of animals as you could expect, until you surrender and turn your disk to red. The cuisine and service is a Brazilian import; the disk system, a truly American addition. The whole thing is for a fixed price. It's a lot like Shoney's, without the fat rednecks and dirty children.

At first I kept pace with the service. I would make a good dent in the previous cut before the next was offered. The waiters saw my plan and doubled their efforts. Meat began piling on my plate. I would forget what animal I was about to eat before another was carved fresh for the table. I had sirloin, tenderloin, pork loin, chicken, pork sausage, tenderloin wrapped in bacon, turkey wrapped in bacon, lamb, more sirloin. There was ribeye, flank steak. I lost track. Side dishes were brought to the table, but I barely touched them.

As we turned our disks to red one by one, we were chided by a man whose sole purpose seems to be to goad people into eating as much meat as they can physically fit into their bodies. This is counterintuitive to everything I know about the restaurant industry, yet here the man was, in a well-tailored suit and conservative glasses, mocking us for our inability to continue.

Fifteen or twenty minutes into the meal, I became lightheaded. The Meat Euphoria was upon me. A few minutes later I lost the capacity for speech. As waiters continued to bring meat, I could only nod or shake my head at their offers. My thought process slowed, so that one waiter was left staring at me, politely waiting for me to take the meat with my tongs. My vision blurred. When the dessert cart came around, I somehow raised a finger at what might have been a chocolate cappuccino fudge cake (or was it a hallucination?), but I certainly can't imagine that I fed myself.

We parted ways outside the restaurant, and I stumbled to the subway. On the platform, the Meat Euphoria began to subside. I could see more clearly, and was amazed that I'd made it to the correct train. While waiting, the next stage hit me: the Meat Sweats. By the time the train finally arrived, I was drenched, and everyone on the car gave me a wide berth. I can only assume they all thought I worked in some twisted butcher sweatshop, and that I was going home after a grueling sixteen-hour shift of hacking away at carcasses. If they only knew. The Sweats turned out to be the longest phase. I got home and managed to slip into bed without waking Amy, and dozed fitfully. I woke in the middle of the night, cold pork fat oozing from my pores. Amy rolled over, semi-conscious, and asked what I was cooking. I told her to sleep and spread a blanket on the floor. I rode out the worst of the Meat Sweats there. I'm going to have to burn the blanket.

When I got up this afternoon, the Sweats had subsided, replaced now by the Meat Shakes. I cooked a little bacon with my breakfast, trying the old "hair of the dog," or pig in this case. It was just a temporary fix. By now the worst of the Meat Shakes seems to have passed. I'm only experiencing a few tremors now and then. I believe the last phase is finished.

The only conclusion I can draw from my experience is that the churrascaria is a Brazilian invention wrought to bring about the end of American influence in the western hemisphere. No country could willingly subject its own people to such an orgy of delights and terrors. The chiding man at the restaurant must be some sort of government liaison. I will now travel to Brazil to find the answer to this problem. If I can't find a churrascaria down there, then we know. If I do, well, may God have mercy on me.

I've seen the face of Death my friends. It's made of meat.

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My name is Leslie. said...

She really woke up and asked you what you were cooking? And then you slept on the floor? For reals? Jesus, that is fucked up. I had a similar experience the first time I came to Memphis with Mark. We went to the Rendezvous, and I ate a sausage and cheese plate, followed by a slab of ribs and several pitchers of beer. The ride home was painful.

Colin Fisher said...

There may have been a little artistic license taken.

Mmm, ribs and beer...

Leslie said...

Well, I'm saddened that some of this may have been fabricated because I told this story when I went camping last weekend and pretty much made everyone laugh so hard that beer came out of our noses.

You need to write more because I LOVE IT!

Colin Fisher said...

What can I say, I'm the James Frey of trivial amusing anecdotes.


Mark said...

I think Augusten Burroughs wrote about a similar restaurant with tons of meat and the disc gimmick in one of his books. It may have even been the same restaurant. He tries to eat meat exclusively.