Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker

“Local Bounty,” by Calvin Trillin, from

; I would guess, from my own experience, that most residential buildings in Manhattan receive menus from at least one restaurant every day. For a while, in fact, it was common in my neighborhood, Greenwich Village, to see signs on doors saying “No Menus”—sometimes in both English and Chinese. I never thought of posting such a sign myself. Yes, I occasionally get irritated when the steps in front of my house are littered with paper menus from two or three Chinese restaurants of the sort that seem to acquire their food from one gigantic kitchen, presided over in a dictatorial but not terribly inventive way by General Tso. But my attitude toward takeout menus is reflected in that brilliant slogan the New York State Lottery uses in its advertising: “Hey, you never know.” It was a takeout menu, slipped through the mail slot of my door, that alerted me to a splendid little sushi restaurant on West Fourth Street called Aki, whose chef’s experience working for the Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica had inspired him to put on the menu a roll that includes both jerk chicken and hearts of palm.

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Grant Barrett