[Note: Peter sends this disgusting dispatch from a family vacation in London.]
My daughter Gracie was raised on Harry Potter, so she was pretty hungry, as books are papery and somewhat tough to chew. But as J.K. Rowling is constantly extolling the joys of steak and kidney pie, that’s what Gracie wanted to eat in London.
Gracie, her sister Rosie, their mom, Beth, and I went to Porter’s, a famous destination for traditional British food in Covent Garden. Mark Twain suggested there’s a section in heaven where all the newly departed souls get to try wearing wings and playing harp all day, because otherwise they’d never believe how awful it is; Porter’s may play the same purpose.
The family and two friends, John and Suzy, decided to share one order of steak and kidney pie, so nobody would be stuck with it. The waitress said it was a “boiled suet pudding,” and also that it had a “distinctive taste.” She also mimed sticking a finger down her throat, but she said that’s how British people indicate “distinctive taste.”
John: It deflated as I cut into it. That’s new.
Gracie: Is that gravy or blood?
Suzy: It has an aftertaste.
Beth: That “organy” aftertaste?
Gracie: There’s uninflated balloon stuff in it.
At this point, I believe Gracie had come upon a bit of kidney, which she felt either had the texture of a rubber balloon, or the taste, or both, or something beyond the experience of her mere 12 years on this Earth to adequately describe.
John: Well. (Pause.) Kidney tastes like you imagine it would.
Beth: Oh, god.
Gracie: I can’t tell if it really smells like that, or if it’s just that I’m sick.
Rosie: I realize now why nephrons are reserved for waste filtration.
It seems worth pointing out that Rosie had just finished a biology unit on the anatomy of the kidney.
Beth: I feel terrible.
Gracie: Because you ate it? So do I.
Beth: No, because all my life I’ve dreamed of having steak and kidney pie, and now I know it’s awful.
Peter: It’s like the food equivalent of sex, except this never ever gets better.
Gracie: What does that mean?
Peter: Ask your mother.
[The verdict: We have to assume steak and kidney pie is an elaborate prank played on the rest of us by the British, in vengeance for dismantling their empire. Basically, it’s the food equivalent of Benny Hill.]