Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Food Gaming a National Sensation. Who Knew?

Despite the fact I live in one of the world's largest cities, I somehow wonder if I'm not simultaneously living under a rock.

Case in point: The pack of popular food and restaurant-based video games that have apparently surfaced over the last five years. Somehow, thousands and thousands of people are loving food-related games, and I've missed the whole thing.

I was just reading an article at Forbes.com about women's increasing interest in gaming.

Therein I discovered that a game called Diner Dash, released in 2003, was not only one of the top downloadable games of 2004, but the makers, PlayFirst, spun the game and its indefatigable heroine, Flo, into a series popular sequels: Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue, Diner Dash: Flo on the Go, Diner Dash: Hometown Hero.

Diner Dash
And Flo follows her food service dream...

For the eduction of those troglodytes like myself, Flo is apparently a former stockbroker who burned out, dropped out, tied on a pair of zippy sneakers and took up in the diner business.

The game involves doing some mind-reading, analyzing different customer types and single-handedly running various food service enterprises. You can play all night with no risk of sore feet at the end of your shift. ('Course, there's no fat wad of tips for all your troubles, either...)

And it turns out Flo's not alone in virtual service work. Now there's so many food-tie in games, you can pretty much pick your poison: Turbo Pizza, Coffee Rush, Burger Rush, Go-Go Gourmet, Family Restaurant, Chocolatier and Chocolatier 2, Cake Mania, Burger Island, Pizza Chef, Betty's Beer Bar...

Having worked for so many years of my life in the food industry, I must admit the initial appeal was a little lost on me. Endless shifts? Cranky customers? No chance for financial gain? How does all that add up to a recipe for a popular leisure activity?

Burger Rush
The Burger Rush origin story.

That said, the more I think about it, the better virtual business ownership sounds. Restaurant simulation gaming offers all the fast-paced drama with none of the real restaurant risks... things like permanent bodily injuries, drug-addicted employees, violent or drunken customers, unreliable suppliers, liability issues, mob interactions and bankruptcy threats.

Here's a thought... Maybe culinary schools and restaurant business programs should run potential students through a few rounds of Diner Dash before allowing those bright-eyed would-be entrepreneurs the opportunity to lay their unmarred hands on a pile of application forms. Give 'em an opportunity to feel the heat before they drop a bundle on tuition fees.

Yours in simulated burgers and virtual fries,

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A Scene: Butterburger

Butterburger from Culvers

A short argument with a side of junkfood.

Scene: Boy and girl in moving truck enroute from Chicago to Seattle.
Time: 11 a.m.
Place: Somewhere in Wisconsin

Girl: (gazing out passenger window) "Hold on a minute... did you just see that sign?"
Boy: (driving) "Huh?"
Girl: "That sign. I thought it said something about a... Butterburger."
Boy: "Oh, sure. Culver's. Home of the Butterburger.
Girl: Butterburger? Please! As if those things aren't portable heart attacks anyway... Why do they need to go and add a bunch of butter? Everything is so stupid here. I'm glad I'm leaving.
Boy: Shut yer ignorant pie hole... There's no butter in the burger. They butter the bun. They're good. I used to eat 'em in Madison. We should stop.
Girl: We can't! I mean... well, maybe we could. But we just ate breakfast. No, we can't. Definitely no. Hey! What are you doing?
Boy: I'm pulling over. We can't leave the Midwest until you've eaten a ButterBurger...
Girl: No! You can't make me!
Boy: Oh, wait... But oooh! Look who's driving the truck! Aw, yeah... You know who's driving the truck.
Girl: (unrolling window) I'll throw myself out the door and splatter all over the highway! And I swear I'll do it this time!
Boy: Please. Nobody will notice. You'll get chewed up under the tires and look like standard interstate roadkill in the space of five seconds.
Girl: You're heartless!
Boy: You're bluffing.

(Girl stews. Boy drives.)

Girl: Fine. I'll eat one. But you have to order a chocolate shake and dip your fries in it.
Boy: Bgah! Gross!
Girl: No... good. Seriously. It's like... well... I don't know what it's like. But it's good. It's all, like, fat and sugar and hot and cold and... you know... good. Promise me you'll try it.
Boy: I'll promise no such thing. That's disgusting.
Girl: Fine! Fine, then! You expect me to try your filthy cow patty and you won't even try fries in your shake? You're a bully. You're an awful bully and I'm not eating your stupid, ugly burger.
Boy: Suit yourself. You can sit in the truck while I eat my stupid, ugly burger.
Girl: Good. I like the truck. The truck is my friend.

(Boy gets out of truck and walks toward building.)

Girl: (Shouting after him) Do you hear me? The truck is my friend!

(Girl can see Boy through the glass windowpanes... ordering, paying, gathering condiments. Girl stews, then salivates, licks her lips and leaves the truck. She joins Boy in line as he waits for the order.)

Girl: Mine's no cheese, right?
Boy: Yup. No cheese... chocolate shake on the side.
Girl: What? No fries?
Boy: Fryer's down.
Girl: Mmm. No fries.

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Adam Kuban: The Burger King

Behold! The Butterburger!

Just to let you know... Sassy-smart food blogger Adam Kuban just launched his freshest new venture, A Hamburger Today, with hope of glorifying the burger genre with the same adoring eye he's lent his beloved slice.

This baby's bicoastal (although I'd bet the barn that the finest burgers come straight outta the heartland), and I foresee ample fodder for old-school web-style flame wars over the finest in flame-broiled.

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