Sunday, December 7, 2008

Slap My Ass and Call Me Sally

My iPhone led me to the best meal I had in Chicago last week.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my RSNA Survival Kit included an iPhone app called Urbanspoon. A random shake of the iPhone linked me to Heaven on Seven, a downtown restaurant specializing in Cajun cuisine.

Five other famished radiologists humored me and went there for dinner one night, mostly on the basis of my iPhone being really cool, and despite the hotel concierge's lukewarm comment:
I haven't actually heard anything negative about the place...

The sign at the door promised about all the spicy and hot food we could handle -- my favorite names: "Slap My Ass and Call Me Sally", "Ass in the Tub" and "Hot Bitch on the Beach".

This promise of heat was continued inside, where a whole wall of the restaurant is covered from floor to ceiling with hot sauce bottles. We thought this was pretty handy, just in case we somehow ran through all 15 bottles of hot sauce already sitting on our table.

As we sat down, we ran into an encouraging colleague from Atlanta. He loves the place enough to eat there every year, and would have given the food 5 thumbs up if he just had a few more opposable digits.

There were way too many tasty-sounding things on the menu for one meal. Being a displaced child of the South, I would love to have tried them all, but somehow forebore. None of us were hungry enough to go for "Jimmy's Big Ass Rib Special", but we were mightily tempted by tall, chilled Hurricanes and a sour cocktail called a "Mother Pucker".

I had a cup of jambalaya, followed by a plate of grilled shrimp and andouille sausage on rice with ravigote sauce. As my dad would have said, it was larruping.

A caveat on dining with multilinguals...

Our group of six didn't match the American monolingual stereotype. Among us we had native or fluent speakers of several languages, including English, Spanish, French French, French-Canadian French, and Nepalese, as well as a smattering of phrases in Russian, Hungarian and Ukrainian. During the evening, we shared many linguistic adventures from the workplace, including the following:
    1. The word "focus" gives native French speakers huge difficulties. Their every instinct, especially when tired or distracted, tells them to pronounce it as if saying "fornicate us".

    2. The tilde can occasionally be critical in medical Spanish. The simple question, "¿Cuantos aƱos tiene su hijo?" normally means "How old is your son?" However, if you want to see the whites of a mother's eyes, just drop the tilde and the question becomes "How many anuses does your son have?"

    3. The phrase "go outside and let the ducks kick you" is an unspeakable profanity in Ukrainian.
A caveat when dining with physicians...

The more physicians at one table, the more likely it is that the conversation will swerve abruptly into medical matters. We were pretty well-behaved until the French radiologist at our table wondered if American andouille sausage was made from actual pig intestine, like the stuff he ate back home. This led to questions about which actual anatomic part of the pig intestine (duodenum? jejunum? ileum? colon?) was used for sausage. By the time this topic finally ran its course, the conversation had further devolved into speculations about whether certain intestinal diseases actually led to tastier sausage (I'll have the backwash ileitis, with a side of Crohn's...).

Non-physicians may be interested (or disgusted) to know just how many classic descriptions of anatomic pathology use food terms (bread-and-butter pericarditis, currant-jelly stools, coffee-ground emesis, salt-and-pepper skull, etc.). I and my fellow radiology residents once considered writing a paper on this very topic, and were able to name 50 examples just off the top of our heads. It's probably good advice to not shop for food or do an autopsy when you're really hungry.

A word on portion size...

Come to Heaven on Seven hungry but be prepared to share. The waitress brought one of my pals a piece of chocolate cake almost as big as his head. That and the key lime pie I ordered were pretty darned good, but way too much for the six of us to finish.

In the words of the Governator, I'll be back.

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