Appetites and Afterthoughts

For the city that has everything: A new San Francisco dining trend?

San Franciscans are said to be discerning diners, but they will eat anything, kale for example, and they will adapt to the next new food craze with religious zeal. But just what is the next new San Francisco food craze? Well, my best guess is Medicinal Cuisine — an even more extensive adoption of health food. And right here let me quote from one of my food idols, Calvin Trillin: “Health food makes me sick.”

But let’s get on with this journalistic, public service trend piece. I once went to dinner in a Singapore restaurant that featured a doctor instead of a maître d’hôtel — white jacket, thermometer, stethoscope, and grave expression — the whole works.

Before leading me to my table, the doctor took my temperature, my pulse, my blood pressure, listened to the rumblings in my chest, felt to see if I was sweaty (I was), pressed the fleshy parts of both hands and began talking to me about the humours.


You know about the humours don’t you? Air, fire, and water. The act or art of breathing, too warm or too cold, and lots of bodily fluids sloshing around. My Singapore doctor-maitre d’ hôtel ruled that my humours were out of balance. And I suppose they were. I had just flown nearly 24 hours to get to Singapore. Since my arrival, I had been in and out of super air-conditioned rooms and taxis. I had now met my companion from the Singapore Government Tourist Office, who said I didn’t look well and that she had just the thing — dinner in a newly fashionable restaurant. In short — dinner with the doctor.

At the conclusion of the consultation, the doctor-maître d’ hôtel wrote out a prescription for my dinner and an assistant led us to a table. I was queasy before the food arrived. I ate a few bites of this and that. Something sweet to strengthen my tissue. Something sour to stimulate the digestion. Something salty to cleanse obstructions, and something pungent to purify the blood. During the Tang Dynasty, there was a renowned doctor, Sun Simiao, who believed in the curative powers of food. Why argue? He lived to be 101.


When I got back to the hotel, I took two aspirin, an Imodium tablet, quaffed down some restorative Alka Seltzer, hit the sack and slept fitfully. That was a long time ago, thousands of Chinese meals ago. But we were talking about dining trends.

There is one thing San Franciscans enjoy more than dining out. That is starting a restaurant. So I think I’ll try that. I’ve already got some venture capital money from South of Market (obviously), and I’ve found a doctor who should make a good maître d’ hôtel. And, of course, you know what the waitresses’ uniforms will be like.

The name of my restaurant will be The Doctor’s Office. Call for an appointment.

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