Thursday, November 29, 2012

dear sanchez

Finally, I have an opportunity to answer your letters. Thanks for the submissions, keep them coming! A quick update: Michael dragged me to his family Thanksgiving. It didn't offend me and we got to make pie. Michael's dad picked a fight with me about politics, and I had to shut down the conversation by screaming, "HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT ME TO VOTE FOR A MAN WHO DOESN'T DRINK!?"


Dear Sanchez:
How do I get to enjoy holiday parties, drink, eat and be merry without gaining weight?
Packs On Pounds

Here are a few options for you, POP:

Instead of a toothbrush or a finger. 
How about the ultimate party room: Classical Roman-style vomitorium? I'll admit that it is a myth that Romans actually had a room where they would barf simply to be able to go on eating and drinking, but like most things Roman, it's the myths we recall. So hang out with your wang out (of your toga)! Party like it's C.E. 99! Simply line your bathtub with a heavy-duty plastic covering or tarpaulin. For a festive touch, provide candy canes as gag-stimulators. Word to the wise: consider how anything you serve will look in the vomitorium. You may want to avoid seven-layer dip. Hire your neighbor's kid to clean it up.

Jonny Moocher
Option 2: Eat smaller portions and drink responsi.... I can't even finish that sentence without barfing. Let's say that option two is to start hooking up with people who like really fat people (they're called chubby chasers or chasers for short, in case you were curious, POP) and give up trying to maintain your weight. The holiday season is figuratively Christmas for chasers, since everyone gets just a little bloated from excess. Get into it!

Option three is inspired by Michael, who is famously cheap. Instead of buying groceries or spending money on food, Michael subsists on PBRs and tap-water, eating only when he's invited to parties. You should see him clean out a guacamole bowl, even I find it impressive. So the other option is to basically starve yourself and only eat when you attend parties. Michael seems to think it saves money, but it's costing him friends who notice that he doesn't bring wine or anything to share. So don't forget to bring something. I recommend a jello mold.

Hi Sanchez,
What is the best way to disinvite someone from a party?
Cornered And Forced To Invite a Douche

Thanks for letting me tackle your etiquette question, CAFTID. Usually Michael answers these, but I'm guessing I'll have better advice for you. I have to first advise you that you are not the brightest bulb in the box since you have already invited this person. I would really rather be answering the question "how do I avoid stupidly giving out an invitation to someone I don't want at my party." That's easy: just say no.

Given that you have already made a terrible mistake, it's important to determine exactly why you don't want this person at your party. Do you hate this person's guts and pretend to be their friend in person? Will their presence cause an awkward social situation, like getting two exes together? Or do they simply, literally stink. There's no one way to disinvite someone, each situation has it's own nuance, but here are some simple guidelines:

"How rude!"
1) Don't be nice. Nice is what got you into this mess. Be mean, and don't be afraid to go for the jugular. Avoid racial slurs, but bombs away with character assassination. In the case of avoiding awkward social situations, just put it out there, "Yeah, Dad, I don't think you should come to Christmas since you totally boned my mother-in-law and she's going to be there."

2) Make excuses. "My studio can't fit more than four people at a time, I'm so sorry." "I'm so daft, I miscounted and only ordered enough catering for 250 people and unfortunately you're number 251, next time, hun?" "Oh, didn't you hear? We had the cancel the party because my dog got crabs." "I just can't help that the elevator capacity is too low for you to ride up." As with any good lying, cover your tracks and make sure no one gives you away on Facebook.

3) Have someone else break the news. Find a naturally aggressive friend who loves the look of disappointment on peoples' faces. If you don't have such a friend, try to find someone willing to file a restraining order on your unwanted invitee, or invite someone who already has a restraining order against them. This is a perfect situation because you don't end up looking like a total dick.

4) Move the party. A last-minute change in venue can work, however you mustn't let anyone find out until the last minute. This is a risky move, especially if the object of your avoidance is getting a ride with other guests. In that case, you'll have to sacrifice those other guests, too.

5) Cancel. Start over, and don't make the same mistake again, CAFID!

Submit your food and drink related questions to Sanchez ( and all of your modern etiquette questions to Michael (

Friday, November 16, 2012

thanksgiving is coming

Thanksgiving involves some major-league cooking and party hosting. Even though various products have made the holiday meal a little easier (canned- and instant-, etc.), there are still some hurdles to jump over. For the uninitiated, or those of us who are a little rusty, I have a few common mistakes to avoid.

Getting Drunk
Most of my holiday disasters involve drinking. I'm not talking about a drunk grandma who can't keep her top on, that's just bound to happen. I'm talking about having enough booze to last the day. I am borrowing some fantastic advice from John Cheese at, "plan out what you think you need, then triple that order." If you've been to some of the family thanksgivings I've seen, you're just going to have to expect that everything is going to turn into a shit-show.

Choose the least boozy of your relatives to supervise meal preparation. Everyone might love Aunt Linda's famous margarita pool parties, but we all know that the kitchen apron quip, "I cook with wine, sometimes it even goes in the food" was written about her. That is why, while she's welcome you help out in the kitchen (maybe keep her away from knives), you should choose your newly sober uncle or your timid, mousy cousin to make sure that nobody burns down the house. Or that the oven gets turned on. Or so that nobody gets poisoned.

Your frozen turkey will probably come with a plastic bag full of guts shoved up its butt. It's best to take that out before you start cooking your turkey. Plan ahead so you have time to thaw your turkey. If you don't plan ahead, you'll be sucking on raw, frozen turkey instead of fighting over the drumsticks. If you do it right, your oven-roasted turkey will taste just as good as his deep-fat-fried brother, not to mention that roasting is easier to clean up and caries a much lower potential for an explosion. If you like explosions, watch this:

Make what you can
Stick to recipes you have tried before, especially if there is anything technically complicated. There's nothing like grossing everybody out with the balsamic-glazed butternut squash and sage-scented tart-a-tain you read about in O! magazine, especially when all anyone was looking forward to was pumpkin pie made from Libby-brand pumpkin puree. TLC had it right, at least about Thanksgiving: "please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to."

Have a happy Thanksgiving from me and Sanchez!

PS: I'll be taking Sanchez with me to my family Thanksgiving, so I expect he'll come up with a lot to say about it. Cheers!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


The result of the election spread sadness all over the country. With hearts full of despair, we may be facing a future filled with whatever canned or non-parishable foods we can fit into our zombie-proof fallout shelter where we will await the Obama Socialist apocalypse.

White ladies sad about Romney's loss, sadness unmatched even when they
found out there wouldn't be a new Neimam Marcus in Boca Raton.

In the mean time we can enjoy a HETEROSEXUAL chicken sandwich at Chic-Fil-A, the country's most popular traditional chicken outlet. Thankfully, stores are still opening! Republicans rejoice, and take some solace before the world comes collapsing at our feet.

Thank you to "White People Mourning Romney," the brilliant, topical blog which brought this important news to our attention.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween

I'm disappointed that no one came to trick-or-treat at my house! I had a bowl of pastel-colored after-dinner mints and a demitasse spoon. I was going to offer as much candy as the little ones could fit in one scoop. Maybe next year.

Pastel after dinner mints are for all occasions.

Happy Halloween from Sanchez and Michael!

Monday, October 22, 2012

tasting notes

I recently had my sensed dulled by too much drink, but I still wanted to enjoy some wine. Not to get too technical or talk too much shit, but unlike Michael, I think Oregon wines suck, categorically, and with only one exception: some oregon wines come from the Walla Walla valley. I came to this realization concurrently with another important general realization about wine. To describe this new understanding, I will attempt to describe something about wine tasting.

To taste wine there are (allegedly) three components to pay attention to:

1) Smelliness: Sniff the wine and notice whether or not it is wine. If it smells like whiskey, you might have picked up someone else's drink. If it smells like butt, it could be wine, probably from California. But if you are really good at determining smelliness, you might notice that it smells like grapes or like alcohol. It might smell like your uncle Jimmy, which explains why your mom always locked the liquor cabinet before he came over. Wine snobs call this the "nose," since French people invented wine snobbery and they have historically large noses.

2) Mouthiness: Put the wine in your mouth, and like a classy prostitute, try not to swallow. Consider how it feels in your mouth, does it strip your tastebuds like turpentine? Does it taste like grapes or alcohol? Gurgle like you were using mouthwash (or again, like a classy prostitute) and see if that makes it taste more like grapes or alcohol, like dirt, like dog food, or anything else you've tasted. You are experience what the wine snobs call the "body" because they won't usually have access to someone else's body without wine. Decide if you really want to swallow (I don't need to mention it again), and get ready for...

3) Swallowiness: Swallow your wine. Notice what your mouth feels like. Does it suck your mouth dry of saliva (it might be from California), or does it feel like you've had a sip of cold water (in that case, it's probably from Oregon)? Spend some time noticing how much the taste lingers. Does it linger like a fourth person when all you want is a threesome, or does it run away quickly like a blind date done poorly? This is known as the "finish," and you should hope for happy endings.

So anyway, I was out with Michael and his friend Steve, numbed to the point that I was actually liking a certain Oregon wine. I evaluated the experience of the wine in all the aforementioned ways and three stars later, I was not offended, that is, until I discovered the fourth element of wine tasting:

4) Belchiness: Burp. What do you notice after the wine has made a comeback? Is it a pleasant experience, like tasting chili-cheese fries over and over again after the fair, or is it unpleasant like you had just vomited? Belchiness is always overlooked because of its improperness but I assure you that wine can come back to say "hello" and this is the real test for a good wine. This particular Oregon wine was holding up pretty well to me until at first burp all I could taste was oak barrel, as though I had been forced to lick someone's grandfather's oak-panneled study from top to bottom.

So, if you take anything from this little foray into the world of wine tasting, know that you know nothing until you've had a satisfying belch: only then will it all come together.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

put a bird on it and call it a restaurant


I've had some interesting experiences in dining and food this week.

First off this week I ate in a very expensive restaurant named after a type of bird. After I got over the name, I marveled at the whimsy of a beef tartare with fried oysters then later, fois gras profiteroles. It didn't offend me. Michael can't stop talking about it, probably to make friends with other needlessly pretentious Portland foodie hipsters.

Later in the week I heard an argument about how to make a menu more vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free. I'm new around here, and I don't want to come off as an asshole before I inevitably do, so I stressed and strained to keep my mouth shut. I suffered though it, discovering that if I don't stop chugging wine, I am less inclined to use my mouth for any other purpose.

So I was having a little meal at my neighborhood spot where I overheard a staff meeting taking place at a nearby table around 3:30 in the afternoon. The meeting was to discuss front-of-house operations, and since servers are often loud-mouthed alcoholics it was easy to eavesdrop. Point is, one of the servers brought up the fact that the menu is "less vegan/gluten-free than it pretends to be." Generally, lists of food you can choose to purchase or not to purchase don't "pretend" to be anything else, but I'll let it slide. She went on to explain "It's Portland standard to show which menu items are vegan/gluten-free." So I don't personally understand why this is a "standard." I've been pretty good at knowing which foods come from animals and which foods come from wheat-germ.

Here's a quick list of things you should avoid if you have a gluten-free diet:

  • Bread
  • Soy sauce
  • Hayrides

And if you are vegan, avoid these foods:

  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Shoe leather

These are explicitly off limits for both diets:

  • Beef Wellington
  • Happiness

Sorry haters. I enjoy a good slice of pepperoni pizza now and then.

Friday, October 5, 2012

responding to letters

Dear Sanchez: 
It's friday night and I haven't made reservations, I don't know what I am in the mood for and I don't know what my date is going to want. Please help. 
Clueless About Dinner

Thank you for your letter, CAD. Since Sanchez is busy sleeping all day, I thought I would take a stab at your letter. There are so many options, so I am going to narrow down your scenario with the following further complications: Your place is a mess, so getting takeout or cooking at home is not an option. Furthermore, it's too cold and rainy for a picnic or other some such romantic nonsense. Let's also assume that you have not been dating long, that this is perhaps date two or three.

So, without reservations and facing the first-world version of starvation, where do you go? I say, go eat dinner at your neighborhood bar, or at the bar attached to a decent (yet not spectacular) restaurant. In recent years the profile of food in bars has seen a steady increase. It has been fun to experience, too, since bar menus which once featured onion rings and mini corn-dogs now have thoughtfully constructed burgers, oysters in the half shell, I even found a ni├žoise salad in a bar. The best part is that you can still get those mini corn dogs! Everybody wins.

I am not praising new bar food without a better purpose. Hopefully you'll choose a popular watering hole with a decent Friday-night crowd. On your date your will be forced to sit very close to be able to talk. Be sure, however, to cut out before it gets too late to prevent interactions with obnoxious patrons and also to be sure not to drink too much. Save getting shitty drunk for the fourth or fifth date.

Dear Sanchez, 
My boyfriend is a picky eater while I, on the other hand, am adventurous and love to try everything. When we go out together, he usually causes a scene by editing the menu so much that he might as well go make it himself. He even pretends to have allergies to things he just doesn't like. I know for a fact that servers and cooks find him really annoying (I overheard some trash talk on my way to the ladies room once). I need some advice on how to continue going out and enjoying new foods without coming away embarrassed by how he acts. 
Picky Eater Ruins My Supper

Let me ask you a question, PERMS. Let's say that your boyfriend was a supreme dud in the sack (which, based on your description, I assume he is). Let's say you were really into bondage and he was entirely and staunchly vanilla. Would you stay together? Probably not. Eating is also a sensual experience often enjoyed together. You shouldn't have to give up eating out to be in a relationship, it that is way too much to ask. Also, imagine the future you'll have with this guy, preparing separate meals, having to remember a catalogue of specific prohibitions, and declining nights out with friends for fear of embarrassment. I'm going to assume that you deserve a better future, PERMS, so in the words of Sanchez who just woke up, "Dump the bastard!"

Letters are always encouraged regarding your dinner dilemmas: or espinozma@