When faced with dining options, I generally stick to things I can pronounce, from animals I've seen in real life. Though, if push came to shove, I'd totally devour a unicorn. I imagine it'd taste like rainbows. And horsemeat.
So when it was suggested to me by the innkeeper of the apparently 18th century pub (he hated being called "Innkeeper") I was staying at who suggested I try out "that Brazilian place" I was a bit apprehensive, which is NOT the same thing as scared, because I'm a MAN and even Jean-Claude Van Damme is allowed to be apprehensive.
"You're saying there's a Brazilian restaurant here?" I asked, confused.
"You realize that we're in SOUTH DAKOTA," I continued, because I was in South Dakota and I wasn't done talking.
I guess in South Dakota they just let anybody do whatever the heck they want like it's part of America.
"Sorry," I replied, "I don't think I'd like grilled capybara."
"You're going to send me to a Brazilian restaurant and you don't even know what a capybara is?!" I asked.
"Do YOU?" he challenged.
"That's besides the point."
"They have endless meat."
I'm pretty sure he said something prior to and after the above sentence, but that's all I heard. The next thing I knew I was sitting outside the restaurant in a truck, carrying an electric knife, made all the more alarming because I didn't own either.
I entered the place nervously, like a thirsty gazelle approaching a crocodile-infested water hole. Thick foliage guarded the interior perimeter, making me instantly nervous that I'd catch malaria. Uninitiated customers are excused if they are weary about having to tranquilize their own dinner before roasting it on a spit themselves. I was a bit surprised/disappointed a monkey didn't toss appetizers into my mouth.
The unfamiliar smells must've gotten to me because, in my wait for a table, I began to enjoy the ambiance, despite its lack of appetizer monkeys. Native music was being played by a local tribesman, though I had no idea Beyonc was Brazilian and that native Brazilians look like middle-aged Caucasian CPAs with guitars. I was learning so much! Typically, I don't like learning but let this slide because food was going to happen soon.
I was a little disappointed the greeter and wait staff wasn't dancing something I imagined would be taking place constantly in a Brazilian restaurant so I had to make up for it by doing so all the way to my table. Of course, I wasn't familiar with Brazilian dance, but I imagine it had something to do with butts, so I made sure to do some rather sexy shimmies.
Once seated I was given instructions on how this was all going to go down, just like if you were to go on Safari to hunt rhinos or something. The waiter pulled out some small totem looking device that was painted red on one end and green on the other.
"All you have to do is are you OK," the waiter asked, noticing my inability to sit still.
"This is just so AWESOME," I replied, continuing to do some seated Brazilian butt shimmies to the native beat, which was now Coldplay (who knew that originated in Brazil!).
"Right, as I was saying, all you have to do is flip it to the green side and they will bring you out various meats," he explained. I stopped my sexy shimmy.
"Shut UP," I replied in disbelief, barely able to keep from involuntarily slapping the guy. He explained that it was indeed the case and that maybe I didn't need to look over the drink menu this evening.
"The red side means stop, or no thank you," he continued. It was precious how he thought it'd ever be set to red tonight.
At first you're given free reign over the salad bar, which is a poor name for as large of an area as it is. Salad oasis is more apt. While you may be beside yourself with excitement at your soon-to-be endless meat train, you are discouraged from taking a plate and, while in line for the ranch salad, grab the hips of the businessman in front of you in hopes of starting a conga line.
Once you flip the Magic Totem of Destiny to green, meat pyramid after meat pyramid is brought before you, each more beautiful and delicious than the last.
"Please, sir," one of the waiters said after a few rounds, jostling me back to awareness. "We don't allow customers to gnaw on our skewers. Allow me to cut you some. Also, one of your bites was my knuckle."
"You're delicious," I replied, but in a manly way.
It was like Willy Wonka and the Meat Factory and I was Charlie with the Golden Ticket (made out of seared flank steak). Most of the rest of the experience was a flurry of meat, juices and a mix of sounds from my table of a cross between the Tasmanian devil and the male version of the iconic restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally made famous by Meg Ryan.
I sit now at my kitchen table, hungry and silently reflecting. I begin to think this was all a dream. Suddenly I notice something in my pocket. I reach in and pull out the magic totem that somehow traveled with me. I turn the side to green. And stare at my wife.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org" or via a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he'll summon the hamsters.