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November 1, 2022

Welcome to Delicious or Distressing, where we rate recent food memes, videos, and other decidedly unserious news. Last week, we caught up on the James Corden-Balthazar drama.

Restoration Hardware is well known for its sprawling, look-but-don’t-touch, extremely neutral-toned showrooms. As of recently, it’s also known for its slate of luxury restaurants, complete with private jets for rent and caviar bars. The restaurants’ culinary ethos is, um, maybe not for people who love freshly ground spices.

Outside of the gilded RH kitchens devoid of basic spices, a Twitter-goer shared their roommate’s barbaric mode of cooking with butter—namely, chomping down on a stick of it and spitting the chunk onto the pan. Twitter also obsessed over the Internet Archive’s inexplicable collection of spinning food GIFs. And food-based climate activism found a new weapon and target; mashed potatoes and Monet, respectively.

Restoration Hardware CEO banned black pepper from its restaurants

In case you’re not aware, luxury furniture company Restoration Hardware’s stores have restaurants, and they’re only opening more of them. A restaurateur out of Chicago named Brendan Sodikoff once oversaw them, but now it’s all done in-house. So how is the food? Well, according to this New York Times report, CEO Gary Friedman once banned black pepper from the luxury furniture store’s restaurants for being “too spicy.” (It was eventually unbanned.) That’s everything I need to know. Friedman claims the food is “way, way more important” to him than the vibe, but come on. This is not a place for food people. —Serena Dai, digital editorial director

The Internet Archive has thousands of spinning food GIFs

Have you ever looked at your plate and thought to yourself, Wow, I hope there’s a spinning GIF of this food item?” If you’re shaking your head no, then I need you to remember that life’s best treasures are always the things you didn’t know you wanted. Since August of 2020, Internet Archive volunteers have organized six collections, each with hundreds of hypnotic, high-quality GIFs of spinning food. My favorite GIF is the mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce: an ordinary plate made mesmerizing by 360-degree rotation. On the collection pages, effusive comments say that the GIFs have “the presence of God” and are “the meaning of life.” Please indulge in the uncomplicated joy that is a spinning burger GIF and don’t ask too many questions—just revel in the rotation. 5/5 delicious —Annie Rauwerda, Depths of Wikipedia and Depths of Internet Archive founder

Climate activists throw mashed potatoes on Monet painting

Another day, another seasonal food gets thrown on a famous painting. On Sunday, two climate activists in Germany lobbed mashed potatoes at the glass barrier protecting Claude Monet’s Les Meules, which hangs in the Museum Barberini gallery in Potsdam. The representatives from Letzte Generation (Last Generation), a climate activism group, then proceeded to glue their hands to the gallery wall beneath the painting. Consider it the squishy sequel to a British incident just nine days earlier, when protesters splashed canned tomato soup all over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

So what’s all this food-flinging about? To draw attention to the climate crisis, and all the delicious fall favorites we won’t be able to enjoy when the world ends. Sorry to sound like my dad: In reality, these activists are mostly just pissing off a lot of people. It also needs to be said that if your potatoes are so viscerally runny that they’re dripping down the front of any painting—you’ve royally failed the task at hand. Monet deserves better. Also, how the heck do you get past museum security with a literal bucket of mash? 4.1/5 distressing. —Ali Francis, staff writer

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