Cornfield!a chase
through iowa

OCTOBER 15, 2013



WEEKS AND WEEKS AND WEEKS AGO: Pursued by a secret gelato society, A. Pontious fled New York in a food truck whose pastrami he considered only fair to middling. He then went upstate to borrow a friend's station wagon and discovered Kalehenge. Then he found a cupcake stand intended for elves. It all makes sense when you start from the beginning and work your way up to this point, which is presumably what you have done. Anyway: hi.


I don't know how people manage to stay on the lam. As I drive through state after state, all I can think is, “I must return to New York.”

While the idea that I was being pursued had a certain caché, I found myself wondering more and more if I hadn't been making the whole thing up. Being a food critic calls for a certain sense of the dramatic. You can’t dislike a dish you have to be offended by it. You can’t just not have an opinion, you have to be unimpressed. This is the insight that Iowa, land of driving long distances, has brought me.

But just as I was ready to turn around and begin driving home to New York City, I became aware that I was being followed by a blue Volvo, like the kind you never see in Iowa. And it wasn’t just casually following me, it was gaining on me, on the long twisty roads past the windmills.

So I did what any rational person would: I slammed my foot on the accelerator and did my best Fast and the Furious impression. And then I drove into a cornfield, which was almost as fun as I thought I would be, except I was terrified I would hit a scarecrow, the scary kind. Then I barrelled through a verdant green pasture, beyond which lay an old barn, most of which had burned down. I was all out of corn to drive through, so I entered.

Pontious, I told myself, this is it. I mean, I could have kept driving, but it was clear to me that there was just one ramshackle barn in which I could make my last stand, and it was probably this one. Seeing an old rusted pitchfork hanging on the wall, I picked it up and readied to defend myself. But my pursuer did not appear, and I realized there was also a scythe hanging on the wall, and scythes are way more imposing than a pitchfork.

I picked it up and prepared to defend myself. But holding the scythe made me feel kind of old, because of the Father Time comparison that might be made, and I realized there was a shovel also on the wall, and then I wasn’t sure if this was really trading up from the pitchfork, so I decided I would use what I usually relied on: my vast intellect. Which is worth about a buck fifty, or about two old shovels.

The Volvo moved towards the barn slowly, bits of corn shucks stuck to the windshield wipers, dents from the ears of corn on all over the hood, and then it stopped. I thought I could recognize the person behind the wheel, but the sun was beating down on the glass and so I truly had no idea until the car door opened that I had been pursued by one Mr. Evan Johnston.

Evan does the illustrations and site design for Tables for One, and he'd been frantically emailing me ever since I disappeared from New York, but I don’t really like to write emails on the iPhone, so I hadn't gotten back to him. Well, except when I needed an illustration or a site update.

“Pontious, what's going on? You just destroyed about an acre of corn back there. Wait, how big is an acre? It might have been less.”

“I told you! My life is in danger! I have eaten The Most Dangerous Gelato!”

"No, you haven't. Museo lost their lease. They didn’t announce it because the owner was trying to relocate to Queens. You just happened to have the last bites of gelato, that’s all.”

“What about those valuable sculptures that I devoured?”

“Giacomo did bring that up. He was worried that you might have made yourself sick by eating them. Look, there's no secret gelato society, Museo does catering events, they provide gelato sculptures. They’re sculpted upstate, and then they take a refrigerated train down here. You just ate part of their showroom.”

“What? But what about the secret tunnels in Grand Central?”

“Everybody knows about those! They're going to be turned into an H&M next year. Are you OK? You don’t look well.”

I had to admit that I hadn't been eating much. Although there was this cupcake stand in Vermont

“I know all about the cupcake stand, I read the blog. Look, nobody’s mad, just come back to New York. But before you do that, you should congratulate me.”

“Congratulations. Wait, for what?”

“I just got married!"

“That lovely girl with the freckles? The one from Ithaca? Marvelous!,” I said, clapping him on the back, “When did all this happen?"

“City Hall, two weeks ago! And we had a great brunch afterwards, let me tell you all about it . . . ”

And, Reader, he did. But that is someone else’s food review, and you are here for mine. You are here for Tables for One which I am pleased to report will soon be back in New York City, which is the home of a very happily married couple. Cheers!


Next week: A. Pontious is back in New York City.


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