When the dignified and unflappable restaurant critic Adam Platt learned that, in a moment of unzipped candor, the great Mario Batali had called him a “miserable fuck,” the critic removed a dusty bottle of rye from his desk drawer and poured himself a noonday toast. After all, if chefs don’t squeal like stuck hogs once in a while, a restaurant critic isn’t doing his job. But the Gobbler had a different reaction. “Miserable Fuck”?!??!?! Wasn’t that a bit over the top? The Gobbler got on the phone with Mrs. Gobbler to find out.
“Honey, you’re not miserable,” she said.
The Gobbler then sent an e-mail to the epicure and writer (and also friend of Batali’s) David Kamp. Having seen Platt on vacation with his children in Florida, he replied, “I can swear on a stack of bibles that you’re not always a miserable fuck.”
The Gobbler called a chef friend, one of the few who will speak to the Gobbler on a regular basis. “That’s pretty damn funny,” said the chef, cryptically.
The Gobbler called his aesthete investor friend, Maurice (remember him?) out on the West Coast. Apparently he’d pulled Maurice from an important meeting. “You miserable fuck,” Maurice said.
The Gobbler’s mother (Grandma Gobbler) was out of the country, so the Gobbler called his mother-in-law, who was minding her own business watching TV in Michigan. “Oh, dear,” she said, sounding appropriately shocked. She called out the news to her husband. “Ha ha ha ha,” laughed the Gobbler’s father-in-law with uncontained glee.
Finally, the Gobbler called his actor brother, the one Chef Batali claims as a friend: “Mario said what?!” His brother, who has his own views on movie and theater critics, digested the information in silence for a time. “I have no comment on that,” he said. —Adam Platt