DIRTY FOOD CONFESSION: I ate food I found sitting on a table in New York. Didn’t expect me to come out and just say it, right? I see no need to preface this confession with needles setups, explanations, or justifications. I ate unattended fried chicken that was in a box on a table. The ‘dirty’ here only refers to to the confession, and not the food; I think.

I am a supporter of the adage:  finders, eaters. Allow me to paint a picture. The fried chicken in question was from Fuku; a restaurant by David Chang specializing in fried chicken sandwiches and whole birds. I was in New York alone, which is fabulous because I can walk around the city eating my way from borough to borough without judgement or delay from travel mates. But being alone is also frustrating as I have limited stomach real-estate and can only order a few items from every restaurant before inevitably making myself sick.

I stood in front of the Fuku menu, for what seemed like hours (I am bad at time perception when hungry), completely paralyzed by the magnitude of the decision I had to make. Should I order the chicken sandwich or the meal with two pieces of fried chicken? If you don’t get what a crucial decision this is, I feel sorry for you.

If I were there with other people I would have simply found out what they were ordering, order something different and forced them to let me try their food; thus satisfying my curiosity and hunger all at once. But I was alone, hungry, and curious to try everything (it was my first time at Fuku).

You might be thinking to yourself: “Just order what you are craving, what you feel like.” I see you have missed the point entirely. It’s not about what I am craving, It about maximizing my experience at Fuku and giving my tastebuds an adventure.

Decision: 

After what felt like an eternity I decided to go with the chicken sandwich. I talked myself into the sandwich because it was smaller and more photogenic for my instagram feed – Hey! At least I am being honest here.

With a heaviness in my heart I took my sandwich and headed to the crowded, shared cafeteria-like tables in the mall. I sat down in front of an empty chair that had a Fuku box in front of it. I assumed a lazy patron simply finished his food and walked away, leaving his dirt for another to clean. Using “his” was a conscious choice, I’ll just leave it at that.

Still hurt by my limited order, I was attempting to style my sandwich for the obligatory mini-photoshoot that takes place before any meal, when I moved the Fuku box to the side. It felt heavier than what I expected – a lot heavier. Curiosity got the best of me and I opened the box up; there they were, two pieces of Fuku fried chicken, miraculously untouched. I quickly closed the box, assuming someone had simply placed the box to reserve the seat and will be back shortly. I went about eating and photo-documenting my sandwich, patiently awaiting the rightful owners of the chicken to arrive – but they never did.

Dilemmas:

First moral dilemma: Is it okay to eat food you find? Most people would be disgusted with the idea of unguarded mystery food; imagining endless scenarios of evil people doing dirty things to it. That was not an issue with me. The chicken was whole, no one had touched it, well at least that’s what it looked like to me and that was enough to convince me it was clean.

Next dilemma: What is an appropriate time to determine, with absolute certainty, that the food has been abandoned and can be offered a new home (my stomach)? It took me about ten minutes to eat my sandwich and no one had even looked at the box. It turns out 10 minutes is the appropriate time.

As I divulged in the first sentence, I ate the chicken and felt absolutely no guilt or shame. If anything, a kind of pride washed over me; I had tried both dishes for the price of one. I would have been disproportionately upset if I had showed up to the table with a box of chicken and there was another box of chicken. I took it as a sign from the food Gods. They were informing me that I had made the right choice by offering me the box. I could have sat anywhere, but I chose there; I chose the free chicken – or did it choose me? Deep!

 

Would you walk away from this? Don’t even try to act like you would.

 

Do you have dirty food confessions?

 

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