Like astronauts spinning in space or marines in battle, restaurant critics don’t often talk about their mortal fear of expiring on the job. The fear is never greater than this time of year, when lavish restaurant openings converge with the usual year-end tsunami of Thanksgiving turkeys, mince pies, and assorted other potentially lethal treats. Recently, the flow of grub has been so relentless and overwhelming that the Gobbler has been moved — before he chokes on a Christmas turkey bone or finds himself being Heimliched by horrified fleets of midget waiters at Gordon Ramsay — to compose a kind of Richter scale for gourmands. It’s a measure, from one to twenty, of how much you’ve eaten, or how little, and it’s designed to be consulted, in the spirit of the holiday season, after a string of large and festive meals. Let’s call it the Gobbler Scale of Rabid Food Consumption (GSRFC).
1. Ravenous. That aching, Dickensian condition of absolute hunger, with no hope of a crust of bread, or a taco, or even a Wheat Thin.
2. Famished. Possibly you had a Wheat Thin yesterday. Possibly you’ll have one tomorrow. Or possibly, you’ve been on a low-carbohydrate diet for three weeks.
3. Starving. Your last meal was a bowl of chicken soup, for last night’s dinner.
4. Hungry. Your last meal was a bowl of chicken soup, for this morning’s breakfast.
5. Peckish. An English word describing “the state of being somewhat hungry,” according to the Gobbler’s dictionary, or, alternatively, “crotchety and irritable.”
6. Half-Full. A strangely unsatisfying limbo state, which comes over the Gobbler in between appetizers and the pasta course.
7. Semi-Satisfied. We have sampled the pastas, and they are okay.
8. Satisfied. We have sampled one or two of the entrées, and they are good.
9. Plump. The Gobbler has finished his entrée, drunk a goblet or two of wine, and is happily perusing the list of desserts.
10. Pleasantly Plump. The desserts have arrived, and the Gobbler is eating them.
11. Well Fed. The happy state of having consumed exactly one’s normal capacity.
12. Overfed. The not unhappy state of having consumed a little beyond one’s normal capacity.
13. Stuffed. The normal state of any diligent restaurant critic.
14. Sated. “Fed beyond capacity or desire,” according to Webster’s. To fully achieve this state, the Gobbler recommends drinking an entire bottle of Bordeaux.
15. Bloated. The normal state of world-class gourmands like Orson Welles, Jackie Gleason, and Jabba the Hut.
16. Bilious. That peevish, addled condition when the pleasures of indulgence give way to the realization that you have overindulged.
17. Groaning. Walking becomes difficult; burping and loud moans replace regular speech. Relief only comes when the Gobbler is supine, on the couch.
18. Sickened. Alka-Seltzer and Mylanta are useless. The thought of food is nauseating; the bathroom beckons.
19. Semi-Conscious. A dreamy nether state, where doctors are summoned and stomach pumps unlimbered.
20. Blacked Out. Loss of consciousness, full food-induced coma, possible death. — Adam Platt