One thing everyone knows — especially those on the service end of the restaurant business on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — is that Weevy has special names for food that correspond very little, if at all, with the names on the menu. There are a surprising number of waiters/waitresses out there who, thanks to the frequency of our visits, speak her culinary language. For the rest of you, here’s this handy-dandy glossary, complete with the origins of how each dish got its name. Bon apetit!
Hot-hots: French fries. This was her first Weevified food name, which came from the missus and me telling her not to eat them right away: “Don’t touch, hot! Hot!” She was so young when she started eating them she couldn’t even say “Hot-hots,” much less “French fries,” so they were “‘ot-‘ot” for a while.
Chicken and hot-hots: Variation on above. This was her favorite meal for a while, though lately she’s gotten sick of all chicken except Chicken McNuggets. That particular dish is known as “Chicken nuggets and hot-hots,” and it can be purchased at “Old McDonald’s.” Props to Helen at Sugar & Plumm for knowing this one (as well as its sibling, “corn dogs and hot-hots”).
Favorite chicken nuggets: Onion rings. They’ve got the same color breading as chicken nuggets, you see, and they’re fucking awesome, so they became “favorite chicken nuggets.” I’ve tried to explain to her that there’s no chicken in favorite chicken nuggets, but there may not be much chicken in real chicken nuggets either, so who cares? Big ups to Kathy and “Mr. Carwash” (more on that name later) at Old John’s for remembering this one.
Backwash: Soda. This one is my fault. During her formative years (birth to age 2, I suppose) I’d walk around guzzling 2-liter bottles of Pepsi Max (DON’T JUDGE) straight from the bottle. She was, as any inquisitive toddler would be, intrigued. When I polished off a bottle there was always an ounce or two of flat soda/saliva hybrid at the bottom — also known as “backwash.” Like a damn fool, I let her drink said backwash at some point before her 18th birthday. And just as a sip of wine supposedly leads straight to Bowery Bum-style alcoholism, that ounce of warm, flat, saliva-diluted soda has evolved into “Daddy, I want backwash” at every meal, in between meals… she might as well just stick a backwash IV into her veins.
Carwash: See Backwash. A new waiter at Old John’s, unfamiliar with Weevyspeak, mistakenly called it “carwash” instead of “backwash.” Weevy and I both thought that was hilarious, and now we call it carwash whenever we’re at Old John’s. In fact, we’re now known as the Carwash family, and we call the waiter “Mr. Carwash.” Weevy brings people together, she does.
White dumplings: Chicken dumplings. Our late lamented favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, China Fun, served steamed mixed dumplings — two each of pork, beef, chicken and veggie — that were out of this world. At some point Weevy started partaking with me and the missus, but she only liked the chicken dumplings. The veggies had green skin, the rest were white. How we figured out “white” only meant chicken is lost in the mists of time. To this day, they’re still her favorite dumplings, so we trek to the remaining China Fun on the East Side for them occasionally.
Cereal Crunch: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. She started calling it that when she was too young to say “cinnamon toast.” Not the most thrilling story in the world, but still cute, so don’t judge.
Duck bread and blue drink: When Weevy was about two, I started taking her to the little pond in Central Park where people sail toy boats — and where ducks congregate in warm weather months. I think we’re not supposed to feed them, but that never stopped all the folks who bring bread or crackers or what-have-you for them. They’ve got to be the best fed ducks in New York. There’s a little cafe by the pond where you can buy mediocre meals or pre-packaged snacks, so we’d get a piece of pound cake and feed it to the delighted and cholesterol-laden ducks. One day Weevy asked to try a bit of the pound cake, which I’d told her was bread, and found that it was surprisingly sweet and cake-like and delicious compared to all the bread she’d eaten before. Thereafter, the ducks got a lot less of the “duck bread”: “Sorry ducks, duck bread for Weevy!” As for “blue drink,” well, that’s blue Gatorade. I find it kinda rancid myself but Weevy loves it. One of her favorite breakfasts, which we let her have far too often, is duck bread and blue drink. Nutritional value, close to zero. Probably negative, in fact. But it gets some food into her notoriously fussy craw, and it’s easy besides. A perfect parent I ain’t.
Mommy Daddy bacon: Morningstar Veggie Strips. I eat veggie bacon because it’s easy to prepare, tastes like bacon and is relatively healthy and low-calorie, even if it’s the texture of cardboard. (My wife doesn’t like bacon, which is one of the reasons I married her — more bacon for me.) We started giving it to Weevy instead of the real thing because we rarely had actual bacon in the house, and besides, it’s healthier. She likes it, although she prefers “Grandpa bacon,” which she gets whenever she visits my in-laws on Long Island. Grandpa also makes “grandpa eggs,” which are scrambled eggs with a lot of butter and a little milk added. Delicious.
Red pasta: This refers to one very specific type of pasta — penne with chipotle cream sauce from Citrus, which has tragically just closed. It can be pasta, and it can have a red sauce, but unless it’s penne with chipotle cream sauce, it’s not red pasta. Spaghetti & tomato sauce? Not red pasta. Linguine marinara? Not red pasta. Orecchiette putanesca? Not red pasta. You get the idea. The irony is that the sauce is actually more orange than red, but we’re not splitting hairs here.
Poopy bun: Roast pork bun. We get them frozen from Trader Joe’s — not the greatest char siu baoin the world, but more than passable. Weevy decided the pork looked like “poopy,” so she would only eat the bread. “Daddy, I want a poopy bun. You eat the poopy, I’ll eat the bun.” Those words will be emblazoned on my memory until my dying breath.