Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ah yes, the epic of the freestanding lasagna.

Once upon a time, oh it seems a lifetime ago, our Aussie chef at Tulip introduced a menu item called "Freestanding Chicken Lasagna With Mushroom Duxelle." The point, he explained, was that it's not a traditional lasagna -- the kind made in a baking pan that's cooked onced, then festers in its own lasagnalally goodness for a few days, and then gets re-heated -- but it's made right on the plate each time it's ordered. The name elicted a good deal of discussion, most of it owing to the fact the people thought "freestanding" refered to the chicken, not the lasagna. (Sort of like free-range, I guess, but it doesn't walk around much?) So after a few weeks I changed the name to "Freestanding Lasagna of Chicken and Mushroom Duxelle."

A few more weeks went by, and I noticed people were still looking at the name in a sideways perplexed kind of way, so I one day I Googled "freestanding lasagna." Go ahead, click on it. That's right, nothing. Here I was thinking this was some cutting-edge culinary innovation that our chef learned in France, but no -- the chef couldn't think of what to call it, so he made the name up. No wonder people were confused. So I finally ditched the word "freestanding" entirely.

Recently I was having a drink with Geoff Goodfellow, a resident of Prague who from the sound of things never eats in. He claimed that at a Prague restaurant that shall not be named he saw a lunch special named "Freestanding Chicken Lasagna," and it pretty much looked just like Tulip's.

It gets better. Goodfellow is a much better Googler than I, which stands to reason since the good bloke pretty much invented the Internet, or something along those lines. He typed in "free-standing lasagna" and found this. Go ahead, read it. What, too lazy to click on the link? OK, well, apparently the "free-standing lasagna" was in fact patented in August 1999. No joke. Here's the extract from the U.S. Patent Office.