Janine Falvo hosts event to benefit For the Kid in All of Us tonight
Robert sank into his usual chair at his therapist’s office. He started seeing Dr. Wilson a decade ago, soon after ending a two-year relationship.
While Dr. Wilson poured himself a cup of coffee, Robert’s gaze fell on one of the framed bromides that decorated the walls: “To love another or to be loved by another, you must first love yourself.”
“I really hate that saying,” he blurted. “I’ve hated it for 10 years.”
Dr. Wilson smiled, looking over his reading glasses. “Can you say more about that?” he asked, somewhat sarcastically. After 10 years, Robert was quite “therapized” and the two of them often joked about the language of therapy.
Robert looked around the room and squinted. He was on a dinner date at the Spence and was happy to have an opportunity to check out the restaurant for a future meeting of the Atlanta Food Porn Supper Club.
It wasn’t cheap and he was glad his date, Ronnie, had offered to foot the bill.
“What do you think?” Ronnie asked.
“Well, no restaurant in the city is as food-pornographic as this one,” Robert said.
It was about 12:30 p.m. when 30 members of the Atlanta Food Porn Club streamed into Chick-fil-A with boxes of Popeyes fried chicken. They took seats at the tables and began eating the spicy chicken while customers – some outraged, some amused – looked on. Every now and then, the protestors would stop to kiss one another.
Soon a local TV news reporter was in the parking lot, asking questions stupid enough to qualify her for a job at Fox News. Inside, the Chick-fil-A manager repeatedly told the crowd they could not eat there if they didn’t buy anything. With that, Food Porners lined up to buy soft drinks.
Then, a policeman burst through the door. He was obese and waved at the manager, then demanded to speak to the organizer. Robert stepped forward.
Robert looked around and cringed. Even if you ignored the homophobic remarks of Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, you were left with the garish ambiance of a restaurant that should be serving its gruesome food to serial killers in hell.
Robert had a history of social activism and decided to convene an emergency lunch at Chick-fil-A for members of the Food Porn Supper Club.
He also had no illusions. When he was in his mid-20s he got involved in the short-lived protest group, Queer Nation. In the South, the national group concentrated on the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain’s policy of firing gay employees.
Robert and his former fuck buddy Jay slid into a booth at Co’m Vietnamese Grill. They had run into one another at Ansley LA Fitness. Jay suggested lunch and Robert was happy to introduce him to one of his favorite, cheapest restaurants in the city.
“This is a perfect place for a post-workout meal,” Robert explained. “Vietnamese cooking is far healthier than, say, Thai food. It’s all about fresh herbs, veggies, seasoned grilled meats and light sauces. It’s mildly spiced but you can spike it with a shot of hot chili sauce.”
“Sounds good,” Jay said, half-listening. “Go ahead and order for us both.”
“Is it spiiiicy?” a man at the second meeting of the Food Porn Supper Club whined to the server. They were at Stir It Up in Little Five Points and the whiner was determined to find the blandest thing on the menu.
“Jamaican food is by definition spicy,” someone at the table said. “But it’s not all spicy-hot.”
Robert, host of the club, wanted to tie the whiner up and torture him with Scotch Bonnet chili peppers, the world’s hottest. Nothing annoyed him as much as people’s aversion to spicy food. He’d given up taking most friends to ethnic restaurants along Buford Highway, for example.
Robert looked around the dining room of the new Watershed on Peachtree and marveled at how dark and woody it was compared to the original restaurant in Decatur. Indigo Girl Emily Saliers, the owner, had closed that one and reopened in this new south Buckhead location.
“I hear it looks very different,” said Robert’s date, Brandon.
Editor's note: Food Porn is a new fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. For past chapters, click here.
Robert’s head was starting to hurt — not something he expected to happen on this first meeting of the Atlanta Gay Food Porn Supper Club. The setting was the Shed at Glenwood, where the restaurant offers a special menu of $3 sliders every Wednesday night. Robert was always there.
“This is mainly an organizational meeting to get some feedback,” he explained to the 15 people present. “We want your opinions about the hole we might fill in gay Atlanta’s social scene, what kinds of restaurants and foods tempt you, what kind of mood you’d like to set…and so forth.”
Delia Champion burst onto the Atlanta food scene in 1993 when she opened the first Flying Biscuit in Candler Park. For the next 13 years, she owned and operated one of Atlanta’s most trendy breakfast joints while expanding to new locations across the city, like Midtown’s Flying Biscuit at 10th and Piedmont.
Champion, a lesbian, sold her stake in the Flying Biscuit to a franchise company in 2006, but worked behind-the-scenes with the restaurant’s new ownership and new franchises for three years as a consultant.
In 2011, Champion was called back to the restaurant world.
Robert Lingston, a longtime resident of Midtown Atlanta, dipped his napkin in his water glass and rubbed a dribble of a garlic-laden sauce off his red polo shirt. He looked across the table at his friend Janet and sighed.
“I’m having a midlife crisis,” he said, looking around the room. He pushed each sleeve of his shirt up to better reveal his biceps. “I really am.”
“Isn’t this like your second or third midlife crisis?” Janet asked.
They were at Pura Vida in Poncey-Highland. Robert, a dedicated but gym-compulsive foodie, loved Chef Hector Santiago’s tapas. His favorite was the Puerto-Rican classic, mofongo – mashed plantains, carnitas and bits of pork cracklings.