Chandler Burr likes Thai food, speaks Japanese and, unlike many of my other friends, quite often is free for dinner at the last minute. So I’ve been seeing a fair amount of him lately.
You might know Chandler from his previous appearances in this blog* *, or, more likely as a rather famous writer and journalist in his own right.
Chandler's fun because he has the usually charming tendency of speaking his mind. When I grew a goatee recently I knew that if he didn’t like it he would declare it a travesty and strongly encourage me to remove it (it turns out he approved of it). He’s also really smart and makes entertaining statements about things.
As the New York Times’ scent critic, he pays attention to the way things smell. So as I downed hunks of onion at Pam Real Thai a couple of weeks ago he expressed wonder that Thais ever manage to reproduce given their breath (he rejects as preposterous the notion that if everyone has similar breath, they don’t notice that it’s bad).
The topic of politics came up earlier this week when we were eating with my friend Yishane Lee at Tigerland — a place in the East Village that serves Thai and Vietnamese food using many organic things and Berkshire pork, and featuring house-made Asian sodas and an all-New York wine list. Chandler said the Democrats were now the conservatives and the Republicans were Marxists (he was referring to the social engineering being attempted in Iraq).
Last night, for no reason in particular, I was in a lousy mood as I shared a taxi with Iron Chef judge Akiko Katayama. We were going from from an olive oil launch party at Ureña to Sushi of Gari, where I was meeting Chandler for dinner.
Sushi of Gari's publicists like to invite a bunch of journalists to dinner over the course of a couple of nights. The result is fairly festive, since New York food writers tend to know one another and to get along reasonably well. So on the way to hooking up with Chandler, who had seated himself in the back next to freelance writer Jean Tang and a friend of hers visiting from Hawaii, I said hello to Andrea Strong and her nice boyfriend whose name escapes me at the moment, and James Cury, Time Out New York’s Eat Out editor, who was dining at the bar with his mother.
I recommend getting to know James. He’s a really nice guy, and good at his job, too.
I had been repressing my foul mood until I sat down with Chandler, and then complained freely between Chandler's converations in Japanese with the chef. Chandler said my bad mood was kind of a refreshing change from my usual pollyannalike demeanor. That might have been true.