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The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Grazie mille!

Friday, June 10, 2016

No Dinner Reservations For Old, Fat, Naked People

I Won't Be Going To The Amrita

When July 29, 2016 rolls around, I will not be present for the grand opening of a new restaurant called The Amrita. In the first place, it's located in Tokyo, which is a wicked commute from my current home on the East Coast. Not that I don't occasionally travel to enjoy new restaurants, but 6,881 miles does seem like a bit of a stretch and besides, there are other reasons I won't be going to this one.

Given my culinary preferences, I seriously doubt there will be anything Italian on the menu. I could be wrong. Italian dishes are everywhere these days and The Amrita might up and surprise me with a fantastic bucatini al amatriciana. Who knows? And in any case, my wife is a big fan of Japanese food, so there's that consideration to take into account. Even so, however, there are still other reasons I won't be making reservations at The Amrita. Three reasons, to be exact: I'm old, I'm fat, and I don't like sitting around in paper underwear.

You see, The Amrita, which takes its name from a Sanskrit word for immortality, is one of a growing number of restaurants worldwide that caters to folks who want to dine senza vestiti. That means “without clothes,” for you non-Italian speakers or, as the late Lewis Grizzard was fond of saying, “nekkid.”

Okay, there are thousands of eateries for nudists and other sun worshipers in camps and enclaves dedicated to that sort of thing all over the globe. But The Amrita is fairly unique in that it, like its counterparts in London and Melbourne (the cities in England and Australia as opposed to those in Kentucky and Florida), is not located out in “nature” somewhere where patrons are already slapping volleyballs and swinging golf clubs au naturel. No, these places are smack in the middle of town and they invite all comers to come in and strip down for dinner.

At The Amrita's inaugural banquet, you'll be able to sit at the table in your “hygienic” paper panties and enjoy selections from an organic menu while being served “Adam and Eve-style” by “men with the world's most beautiful bodies” and enjoying entertainment in the form of a “Men's Show dance performance.” (Let's see......in America we have a term for such places, but I suppose “titty bar” wouldn't quite apply in this case, now would it?)

While I am not a habitue of such establishments, I have nothing against them. I used to have a Playboy Club key back in the day and I have patronized a Hooters or two over the years. Those institutions are different in that while the staffs may show varying degrees of skin, the customers must remain completely clothed. Or at least they must if they want to avoid getting tossed out. At The Amrita, everbody is invited to get naked. Well......almost everybody, and that exception leads to the final reasons I won't be going to The Amrita.

The Amrita has standards. (Stop smirking.) In order to be issued your paper undies, you have to be between the ages of 18 and 60. Apparently there is something unappetizing about age spots, stretch marks, and wrinkles. Obviously, the management is not aware of the Italian maxim that says, “a tavola non s'invecchia” – “at the table, one does not grow old.”

You also can't have any tattoos, which should just about guarantee a light crowd these days. However, even if you meet the age criterion and are unmarked and unblemished by body art, you still have to weigh in. Yep, them paper drawers don't come in XL. If you weigh more than 15kg (about 33 pounds) over the average weight for your height, well......there's a McDonald's right down the street.

Mia bella wife would make the age and weight cuts, but she has a couple of discreet tattoos that would not be so discreet under the circumstances, and although I am inkless, I am slightly overage and significantly undertall. (As opposed to being overweight, you know.) On the plus size.....er.......side, we wouldn't have to worry about those annoying Instagrammers or about clueless idiots babbling away on their cellphones. All such devices have to be locked away in a tabletop box. (Now there's an idea I can get behind at any eatery.) And we wouldn't have to be subjected to unwanted conversation from other diners: patrons must promise to refrain from being a “nuisance” by chatting up their nearly naked neighbors.

Alas, we couldn't afford the joint anyway: tickets are going for anywhere from 12,000 to 80,000 yen, which equates to $112 to $563 US. On the one hand, I suppose the cost would be somewhat offset by the savings incurred through not having to go out and buy new dinner outfits.

I suppose a certain degree of titillation (no pun intended) is to be expected, but nudity is a great equalizer under such conditions. The sartorial playing field is rather leveled out, after all, when you're wearing nothing but your birthday suit. However, I do think management ought to implement a ban on Viagra, Cialis, and such before dining. I mean, really. I know some of these places are just designed to be temporary pop-ups, but......

And you know, I hadn't before this second considered another aspect. As careful as I am, every once in awhile I do manage to splash or drop or dribble something down my shirtfront or into my lap. Or somebody else does it for me: the manager at the old Italian place that used to be located in Epcot at Disneyworld practically had apoplexy after a waiter spilled olive oil down the leg of my khaki pants. Such things would not be a problem at places like The Amrita. Just have some wet-naps handy and you're good to go. At worst you might have to whip off your little paper pants and put on some new ones. Unless, of course, flambéing or hot coffee are involved, in which case a trip to the hospital might be in order.

No, I guess July 29 will probably find me at Little Italy. It's close to home, you don't have to show an ID to get in there, it's okay if you have a tattoo or two, the only scales are located in the kitchen, you can can get a plate of spaghetti or ravioli for less than fifteen bucks, and everybody – thank God – wears clothes. I'll be there around seven if you'd care to join me.

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