Thor: Literally Run by Arnold Shwarzenegger
Usually the Count, trained in the infamously razor-witted journalistico-priestly salons of Berlusconi-era Rome, has a firm grasp on subtle humor. But this week, Frank is taking everything literally, in an autistic Amelia Bedelia way:
“ONE of the waitresses fancies herself a futurist.
‘This is going to be the salmon lasagna,’ she said as she set down a pasta dish, her verb tense suggesting that the salmon or the noodles - or both - were something else for the time being.”
Is that really what she was suggesting? Or was she just using douchey waiter parlance? For example, it took me a while to realize that when a waiter says “My name is Jimothy and I’m ‘unna be taking care of you all tonight,” it doesn’t mean that he will escort your party home, wrap you in afghans and massage your corns with Vaseline. Silly Frank! He keeps interpreting everything literally...
“With the delivery of another dish came the saying of another sooth: ‘This is going to be the gnocchi.’ We stared at it, primed to witness some kind of transformation.”
Did you, though? Did you all stare at the gnocchi, waiting for it to do something magic?
The waiter then turned a deck of cards into an extremely gay hand pose. Ta da!
“One of the waiters longs to be the host of a quiz show.
‘Any questions about the menu? he asked some friends of mine. When they said no, he challenged them.
‘Really? they recalled his saying. ‘O.K.: what are cèpes?’”
But can you blame the waiter? After the Count’s table pointed at a dish of gnocchi and clamored WHEN WILL IT TURN INTO GNOCCHI?!! YAAAAY MAGIC TRICK!! YAAAY!, he probably thinks Frank’s party is a reunion of the original Awakenings patients.
What’s my name? Where am I? I’m feeling so flirty! What’s gnocci? Yaaaay!
The literalism doesn’t end there, though:
“Thor isn't a brave, arcane voyage into the uncharted waters of Viking cuisine. The name of the restaurant has nothing to do with the Norse god of thunder, whom it evokes only incidentally.”
REALLY? The Norse God of Thunder isn’t, like, an investor? Does the restaurant not serve EVISCERATED OSTROGOTH VILLAGER?? I’m sooooo disappointed! Wait wait wait…so you’re telling me…that the name THOR is FIGURATIVE???? That is really misleading.
“What I really wanted was an upscale place that could cater to the Lower East Side sophisticates while accommodating the lightening bolt attached to my penis.”
“Thor is the theater for an unlikely marriage of the…clangorous dining scene.. of the Lower East Side - and a classically trained Austrian chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner, whose temperament is quieter and more conventional."
Sounds like a sit com: Fastidious Old-World Chef gets dumped in Eccentric Urban Hipster Paradise, like classy Mister Belvedere rolling his eyes at the elaborately washed denims and hilariously exposed muffs of 1980’s teenagers.
Kurt learns to loosen up by episode 8, when he bonds with a tranny, does a heap of Tina and wakes up spooning a pheasant in the walk-in.
Who needs Marketing? Frank already wrote the tag line for the show:
“while that union plays out in awkward ways” (cut to Gutenbrunner getting beaten by cops)… “it doesn't ultimately foil Mr. Gutenbrunner's best efforts and ideas.” (Cue jazzy CHIPS music while Gutenbrunner hi-fives bloody tranny.)
Victory over Frank's visual impression is a whole nother matter:
“Much about the restaurant certainly erects hurdles for Mr. Gutenbrunner's food to overcome.”
When Frank hates the décor, it can translate into serious Bruni demerits. In other words, this could be a MAJOR erection for Gutenbrunner to surmount.
“The dining room's black and white wallpaper calls to mind tiles, at times confronting you with the unappetizing illusion of being on the floor of a very tall bathroom or at the bottom of a very deep pool.” Or both, if you are a midget taking a dump in a flooded Moorish bell-tower.
Aside from a few such qualms, the décor doesn’t end up doing Thor in. Will Frank’s second pet peeve, the catering to carb-phobic dieters, be Thor’s undoing?
“And so, of course, there was a raw fish appetizer, hamachi in this case. But Mr. Gutenbrunner thwarted expectations by presenting it in big, meaty cubes instead of little fingers or thin sheets.”
Little fingers and thin sheets? Nasty. Sounds more like an ad for a Philippino sex vacation than for a well-executed appetizer. That aside, this technique pleased the Count:
“In doing so he lent satisfying heft to a dish that might otherwise have skewed toward dainty.” Frank HATES dainty things.
For example, he chose to have his tutu made of industrial burlap.
You know when you’re watching a movie or something, and you’re totally on board with it, and then all of a sudden Claire Danes is naked on her stomach and Steve Martin is caressing her buttcrack lazily with one finger and you’re like “WHAT BEAT DID I MISS? This makes no sense!!!” and then Tony Scott gives it a rave review and you feel physically violated by what you assume to be a media conspiracy?
My point is, THIS was a superfluous bit of metaphor, no?
“[Gutenbrunner] told me in a telephone conversation that he considered Thor the culinary equivalent of a chance to move from orchestral music to rock 'n' roll.
His version of rock is more Eagles than Franz Ferdinand. With the exception of a few showy riffs like a white tomato mousse…, he constructed relatively safe melodies. And several dishes, including a roasted veal loin with pumpkin, carrots and apples, could have used more percussion.”
Thor's cooks arrange their mis-en-place while tooting out the Scorpions "Winds of Change."
There was a small snafu at dessert: “a multilayered confection that reinterpreted a Snickers bar did exquisite justice to its muse. If only its consumption hadn't been so perilous, and I refer not to weight gain but to clothing stain.”
Frank left Thor with an acute case of choco-crotch. Let's just hope he was wearing something brown!