There’s been a lot of change lately at the The Hunt Club. Remember a couple of years back when the restaurant did an Iron Chef-like contest to pick its new head chef for the kitchen? The winner, Matthew Mina, stayed in the position for about five months before moving on to the Salish Lodge.
The current chef is Ivan Szilak. I’d had his food at various functions, but surprisingly I’d never stepped foot inside the restaurant for a formal meal.
The Hunt Club is a guys’ restaurant, a place I’d go after a hunt–if I was a hunter. It’s dark and masculine. The menu is pretty traditional, with cuts of meat and starches, and few items that stray far from the ordinary.
Unless we talk about the salad they served me.
So what does The Hunt Club’s wedge salad teach us about sex?
It’s all about deliberate divisiveness.
The Hunt Club’s wedge salad features Bibb lettuce instead of the traditional iceberg lettuce. That’s an interesting and somewhat controversial choice. Iceberg, for those who don’t totally disdain it, is a fairly non-offensive lettuce, and it holds its shape as a wedge far better than Bibb does. Bibb is almost too fancy, too refined.
A couple of the other wedge salad elements match the original, like the bacon and the cherry tomatoes, but then there’s another departure, as the green goddess dressing becomes another twist. There are blue cheese crumbles, but not the traditional blue cheese dressing.
I supported and appreciated the twists and turns of trying something new, but I also missed the traditional preparation. This salad caused inner conflict and divided me.
Just as, I’m recalling, a wedge salad divided a committed couple in an episode of last season’s Modern Family.
The issue of gay marriage has divided our country over the past few election cycles. And now a year away from the next presidential election, it appears that gay marriage may again be a wedge issue in parts of the country.
Earlier this year, previous presidential candidate Mike Huckabee predicted that gay marriage “will truly energize a segment of the conservative base,” hoping that it will hold its place in the headlines and draw conservative voters to the polls.
But while gay marriage may be served up as a wedge issue, will it actually play out that way politically? Earlier this month, Iowans voted Democrat Liz Mathis into office, thereby maintaining a slender Senate majority and likely ensuring that gay marriage remains intact in one of the most unlikely of states. Meanwhile, Equality North Carolina found that even in a southern state, the issue is not a gimme for the GOP. Some may argue that in this economic climate with high unemployment, the focus is shifting away from traditional moral issues and toward more pressing issues. But it may also reflect changing societal attitudes. Not only are people less likely to support reversals, but support for gay marriage is at an all-time high.
Maybe, slowly but surely, the country is getting better at dealing with differences, and affirming diversity. I may prefer iceberg in my wedge salad, but The Hunt Club showed me that I should expand my horizons and find acceptance, if not beauty, in something different.
First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on November 24, 2011.