Let it be known for all time that my husband is a miraculous cook. We started dating because of his cooking. He had suggested catching a movie some time, I had politely declined, saying I wasn't in the market for a relationship at the time, then he brought this fabulous muenster cheese casserole to the company potluck and I recall thinking, "On the other hand..."
But the other night, he insisted on cooking weenies-in-a-blanket. It's hot dogs in Bisquick. Baked.
I don't like it.
It's not horrible, I just don't care for hot dogs all that much. Wrapping them in a crust, no matter how light and flaky, doesn't do anything to endear them further to me. I don't like corn dogs, either. John and our daughter love all of the above, however, so he still makes it. Sometimes I try to eat it. More often I don't.
Our relationship has always been based around food, so when I don't eat something John cooks, he tends to feel threatened.
"You don't love me."
"No, I just don't care for weenies-in-a-blanket."
"You're leaving me?"
"No, I'm just not having seconds."
"Should we get counseling?"
"No, just Chinese take-out."
Recently, however, I was alerted to a news story about sophisticated entrepreneur, Eric Wang, who quit a good but boring job as a banker to over the strong objections of his family open a restaurant in Taiwan.
A restaurant where the main draw is eating brown, lumpy menu items from dinner plates shaped like toilets. The Marton Theme Restaurant gets its name from the Mandarin word matong (which means toilet, of course) and is decorated accordingly.
Toilets serve as seats and plates. Urinals adorn the walls. Bathtubs are converted into tables. And of course, the food is served in plates that look like miniature versions of the real thing. This is one place where it's a compliment to say that the food tastes like... well. You know.
Crude, perhaps. But the immature giggle factor has made the Marton a hit. Wang was able to open a bigger second restaurant within seven months, which is also doing crazy-good business. Now he has dreams of an entire franchise, serving chocolate ice cream and "curry hot pot" (ohhhh, the images that phrase conjures up) all across the globe. Look out McDonald's!
Suddenly, the strong objections from his family begin to make sense, don't they? I can imagine those monthly visits he pays to his relatives to fulfill filial duty, grinning at the stony expression on his mother's face as he tells her how much money he's made since his last visit.
What Wang really needs to do if he wants to go global is to capitalize on the methods of other giants in the realm of worldwide advertising. He needs a catchy slogan like, "Tastes great, less filling!" or "Madge, I soaked in it!" My vote goes to, "Food, faux feces and fun." We can definitely rule out what I'm beginning to think is the least flexible slogan in the industry, "Finger lickin' good."
He also needs a mascot. South Park's Mr. Hanky would be particularly appropriate, of course, but I don't know that he's for sale. Same for Planter's, "Mr. Peanut." Wang will have to come up with something original, like, "Bobo, the Irritable Bowel". He might be able to purchase a used "Grimace" costume from McDonalds and just dye it brown.
Wang also needs celebrity spokespeople. I'm thinking I'd like to see Jared from Subway sitting down to a nice, steaming pile of curry served in a potty. Maybe Wang should hook up with Rosie MacDonnell and start a Martong diet.
The newly waif-like Rosie can announce, "I make Tom Cruise look like a blimp now, thanks to Eric Wang's Martong weight loss program. Just two meals a day at the Martong restaurant, and you'll be able to lose weight, too, even with tasty desserts like Rocky Road ice cream with whole kernels of corn mixed in! Or you can try my favorite, a bran muffin with chocolate ex-lax sprinkles Eric likes to call the, 'Your way, right away' special!"
Anyway, love Wang's idea, hate Wang's idea, I owe him a special debt of gratitude. My husband made weenies-in-a-blanket again last night. As he and our toddler began to devour their food, John looked up at me apologetically and said, "It's not too bad, is it?"
"My love," I smiled at him, "It's restaurant quality." Just never you mind which one.
Comments and Marton slogan ideas to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.
This article first appeared in the July 10, 2005 issue of the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.