Sunday, January 29, 2012

Smarter People Own More Stocks

Business Times - 26 Jan 2012

Smarter people own more stocks, says study

It finds a direct link between IQ and market participation

( NEW YORK ) The smarter you are, the more stock you probably own, according to researchers who say they found a direct link between IQ and equity market participation.

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Intelligence, as measured by tests given to 158,044 Finnish soldiers over 19 years, outweighed income in determining whether someone owns shares and how many companies he invests in. Among draftees scoring highest on the exams, the rate of ownership later in life was 21 percentage points above those who tested lowest, researchers found. The study, published in last month's Journal of Finance, ignored bonds and other investments.

Economists have debated for decades what they call the participation puzzle, trying to explain why more people don't take advantage of the higher returns stocks have historically paid on savings. As few as 51 per cent of American households own them, a 2009 study by the Federal Reserve found. Individual investors have pulled record cash out of US equity mutual funds in the last five years as shares suffered the worst bear market since the 1930s.

'It's what we see anecdotally: higher-IQ investors tend to be more willing to commit financial resources, to put skin in the game,' said Jason Hsu, chief investment officer at Research Affiliates. 'You can generalise a whole literature on this. It seems to suggest that whatever attributes are driving people to not participate in the stock market are related to the cost of processing financial information.'

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Mark Grinblatt of the University of California , Los Angeles , Matti Keloharju of Aalto University in Espoo and Helsinki , Finland , and Juhani Linnainmaa at the University of Chicago compared results from intelligence tests given by the Finnish military between 1982 and 2001 to government records showing investments the draftees later held. They found the rate of stock ownership for people with the lowest scores trailed those with the highest even after adjusting for wealth, income, age and profession.

While intelligence influenced things that might naturally increase equity ownership such as wealth and income, the authors said IQ determined who owned the most stocks within those categories as well. Among the 10 per cent of individuals with the highest salary, 'IQ significantly predicts participation' in the stock market, they wrote.

For example, people in the highest-income ranking who scored lowest on the test had a rate of equity market participation that was 15.7 percentage points lower than those with the highest IQ.

'If you look at the significance of IQ related to other factors like income or wealth, certainly it plays a very large role,' Mr Keloharju, a finance professor at Aalto, said. 'It's very difficult to get around that problem, but the results are so strong here. We are playing with lots of different controls and lots of different specifications, and all the time things work really well.'

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

American economist Harry Markowitz won a Nobel Prize in 1990 for his theory that owning a larger variety of assets tended to maximise returns for a certain amount of risk. The 2009 study by the Fed found that 51.1 per cent of American families own stocks directly or indirectly, and of those who do, 36 per cent have shares in one company.

'It's difficult to justify why someone wouldn't invest in the stock market, knowing what a good deal it has been,' said Mr Linnainmaa, a co-author of the study from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. 'The classical explanations for non-participation have been participation costs. It's not just that it may be expensive to buy stocks and mutual funds, but people may not have enough knowledge about them.'

Finnish soldiers were an ideal sample because differences in race, schooling and market access are minimised, the authors said. Draftees were about 20 years old when they were given 120 questions in math, language and logic. The authors divided the results into rankings and compared them with stock ownership records. People who don't serve in the country's military such as women weren't in the sample.

'There is an older literature on whether SAT scores of an investment manager's college helps predict his or her success,' Robert Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University and co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, said in an e-mail. 'This paper has a much better measure of intelligence,' and the 'results are therefore a significant advance', he wrote.

Finnish draftees aren't representative of typical investors, said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Advantage Funds. IQ is a function of culture and shouldn't be generalised across borders, he said. The authors also failed to discuss whether the test given to the soldiers was a valid way to grade thinking.

Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Finland's lack of ethnic diversity 'invalidates it for extrapolating it to other cultures', he said. 'That makes it that much more inappropriate to draw inferences from it about other cultures.'

The study's authors said the findings have implications for social policy. Avoiding stock investments cuts returns and may widen income gaps, they said. Individuals scoring lowest on the tests who still owned equities earned as much as 33 basis points, or 0.33 percentage point, a year less than the highest scorers. One way governments could promote better savings might be with plans that let people opt out of stocks, like 401(k) plans, as opposed to opting in, said Mr Keloharju.

'If you look at these people over time, people with higher IQ scores and stocks become wealthier and wealthier at a much faster rate than people with lower IQ scores,' said Mr Linnainmaa. 'It makes them worse off in the long run, even more so than the difference in income.'

Mr Hsu of Research Affiliates said an explanation for why draftees with lower test scores owned less stock is that they found it harder and more expensive to receive financial education. Getting people information on investing at a younger age may help limit the disparity, he said. -- Bloomberg

 Viann Zhang Xinyu (张馨予)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Longest Wait For A Food Stall In Ipoh

I probably never did write much about this food stall because its already soooo damn hard to get food here. Normally I have to wait 30 minutes at least. Well, thanks to the CNY holidays, its more like 1 hour for my bowl of curry mee (Ipoh style).

Is this the most sought after hawker food stall in Ipoh, probably. Why, its got this silly combination of chicken, mee, meehoon, its distinctive curry soup base, barbecue pork, a bit of pork parts, the crunchy siew yoke ... all topped with its stupefyingly good curry oil mix. Its all in the curry oil mix.

A HK entrepreneur  bought the sole rights to sell the same stuff in HK for an undisclosed sum, its still doing roaring business in HK. I think they still ship the curry oil mix over.

If you are there, you gotta take a look at their menu ... its damn original.

Still, one hour is still worth the wait. Don't know what it is, its intoxicating, spicy and pretty hot, plus addictive ... but damn slow service man!!!

Restoran Xin Quan Fang[新泉芳咖哩面茶餐室]

Add. 174 Jln. Sultan Iskandar Shah, 30300, Ipoh.

contact no. 016-5314193

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kung Hei Fatt Choi

Below is the actual 24K gold carving signifying the year 2012. Too much money, can go to HK to buy this. Sun Leen Jhun Phou!!! Sum Seong See Sing!!!

CSLA Feng Shui Chart 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adopt A Dog, People

Dog owners and dog lovers will shed tears for sure because they know its true and the scene will be the same if the same thing befall us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Around The World In 12 Dishes

These are the 12 dishes/meals to have, according to the food editors of Sydney Morning Herald, in a culinary gastronomic trip around the world. They have intentionally left out Australian restaurants as it was a SMH publication for Australian readers.

Noma, Copenhagen

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

“Your first course is already here” announces the waiter, indicating the vase of bright nasturtiums and twigs on the table. Inside each flower is a plump snail and a touch of remoulade. So already you’re foraging, picking flowers and crunching through twigs. Then you’re nibbling dried-then-fried reindeer moss, and lichen it. Then you’re raiding a little nest of its pickled and smoked quail eggs. Then peeling shellfish from a hot rock, as if by the seaside. And crunching through blue mussels, their shells recreated in edible form. It’s an extraordinary sleight-of-hand, and it shows that Rene Redzepi wouldn’t know what the term ‘resting on your laurels’ was if it hit him in the face.
Okay, so the vase of flowers appetiser may be bordering on the kitsch - Redzepi doesn’t need to try that hard. But all else is elegance; like the perfect little aebleskiver, a traditional spherical Danish savoury pancake impaled with a smoked muikko (a tiny freshwater fish from Finland). Local, local, local food, reimagined by the best restaurant in the world. TD

Strandgade 93, Copenhagen Tel 45 3296 3297

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 Didn’t know what to expect from Heston Blumenthal’s first London venture, ensconced in the very Swish Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and yet a far cry from the speak-in-whispers and cross-yourself-as-you enter ambience of the Fat Duck. Didn’t know I’d love it so much, either. Somehow he has created a very flexible, upstairs/downstairs brasserie with a very English accent, so that at one table will be a couple in jeans eating steak and chips, and at the next, a group dressed up and having the dining experience of their lives.
Blumenthal and the on-the-job head chef Ashley Palmer Watts serve up historically inspired British food such as roast marrowbone or a broth of lamb with slow-cooked hen’s egg. There are two truly great dishes on the menu that should bookend your meal. The first is the Meat Fruit (circa 1500), a single mandarin complete with leaves that transforms into rich, light chicken liver parfait encased in tangy, fragrant mandarin gel, accompanied by toasted brioche. The last is the light-as-a-cloud-of-drunken-angels Tipsy Cake (circa 1810), served with spit-roast pineapple. So. Damn. Good. TD.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Tel  44 20 7201 3833

Brawn at Brawn, London

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 My favourite London restaurant critic, Fay Maschler, gave Brawn a resounding and very rare five out of five stars. “If I could, I would eat there every day” she wrote in 2010, thereby getting this relly of the popular Terroirs wine bar in Charing Cross off to a very good start.
Set in Columbia Road, Bethnal Green, home to London’s famous flower market (and equally famous riots), it’s a simple, minimalist corner building with a white-walled, semi-industrial canteen feel. Like a pub, it’s a charming and welcoming place, with a great list of natural wines, and a menu divided into Pig, Hot, Cold, Pudding and Cheese. You could order solely from the pig section and grunt with pleasure all the way home. Naturally, it does a great brawn (jellied pig’s head terrine), or it would have to change its name. TD

49 Columbia Road, Bethnal Green E2  Tel 44 207729 5692

Osteria Mozza, Singapore

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 The Marina Bay Sands complex opened with a bang last year, so I was curious to see what all the hype was about. The huge Asian food court in the basement looks fun, but it's packed out, with people waiting behind your chair for your table. Upstairs in the ‘flying chefs’ restaurants (Restaurant Guy Savoy, David Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne, Wolfgang Puck’s Cut and Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin), it’s a different story, with very few tables taken the nights I visited.
The best bet seems to be the middle-ground, and the best of the middle-ground is this branch of Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s LA-based Osteria Mozza. Sitting up at the cool marble bar exploring the list of dishes based on buffalo mozzarella, burrata and ricotta flown in from Italy is hugely enjoyable; as is this triple-comforting agnolotti with butter and sage, the tiny pasta parcels filled with chicken, veal and mortadella. TD.

Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore Tel +65 6688 8868

Spuntino, London

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 I’m nominating Russell Norman as The Man Who Saved London. After learning his trade managing Scott’s, J. Sheekey and Zuma, he decided London needed a few more fun places to eat that weren’t at the pointy end of dining, and took off on his ownsome. Well, hallelujah.
If you’re just wandering around Soho looking for something to take the pain off the jetlag, then head for either Polpo or Polpetto, his New York takes on Venetian stuzzichini (small plates). The latest from the Norman invasion is Mishkin’s, in homage to the Jewish delis of New York. Then there’s the sassy little Spuntino, with its New York take on trailer trash food, with things like mac & cheese, spicy sausage & cheddar grits, pulled pork sliders and chopped salad, along with Bloody Marys and Bourbons, and these super-thin twirly-wirly fries. TD

61 Rupert Street, Soho, London. No telephone.

Thip Samai Phad Thai, Bangkok

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

Pad Thai noodles are such a staple these days, there doesn’t seem much point in going way out of your way to find a funny little place in Bangkok that is tied up with the dish’s (surprisingly recent) history. But it’s worth it, to see this seminal dish cooked on the street in a huge cast iron wok over hot coals, by a slim young girl in a red T-shirt who must surely be skipping school.
First she puts in three ladlefuls of oil and scoops in a pile of prawns from a plastic bucket. Toss, toss, fry, fry, three minutes. Then she scoops out most of the oil, and adds cubed tofu, green garlic chives, vegetables, stiff white beanthread noodles and a lot of red chilli sauce, sugar and salt from a line-up of buckets, which all comes to the boil super-fast. Then – new wok – she deftly makes an omelette that covers the interior of the pan like a second skin. In goes the contents of the other wok, and – the finished pad Thai is turned out, perfectly wrapped in omelette, onto a melamine plate. That will be 70 baht, thank you ($2). And that’s for the Super Special. JD.

313 Mahachai Road, Samranraj, Bangkok Tel 66 2 221 6280

Au Passage, Paris

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 Down a dodgy back alley off the Boulevard Beaumarchais is what looks like an old, untouched bar, complete with beer sign outside and old wooden bar and mis-matched tables and chairs inside. Welcome to a little piece of Australia in the middle of Paris, where Aussie-born chef James Henry is cooking in a kitchen only slightly larger than a box of veggies.
Lunch is three courses for 16.50 Euros ($20); dinner is a small blackboard of a la carte specials that costs little more; and it’s just plain lovely, light, fresh, minimalist cookery. My lunch started with bulots (whelks) and mussels in a light cream vinaigrette with warm samphire. Then choppy, chunky tartare de boeuf (au couteau/hand-cut) with finely minced cornichon and shaved baby radishes, and a fresh little cheese with figs and toasty hazelnuts to finish. Perfect. JD.
1 bis Passage de Saint Sebastien, Paris 75011. Tel 33143550752.

Le Dauphin, Paris

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

How smart. The posse headed up by chef Inaki Aizpitarte, one of The Chosen (that means a fave of Rene Redzepi of NOMA) has solved the problem of being inundated at Le Chateaubriand by opening a smaller, more casual bistronome down the road. A cool, white marble cube designed by Rem Koolhaus, with detail picked out in mirrors and Danish stools, it’s a nice place to be.
Lunch is a reinvented ‘menu formule’. On this hot summer’s day, that means a cool melon gazpacho with fresh raw almonds, a choice of cod or braised lamb cleverly served with the same garniture of tomatoey chickpeas and amaranth, and as at Au Passage, a simple fresh white cheese and fruit for dessert. It’s great value and very satisfying; a clear signpost for the future of dining in Paris. Struggling with my notes, trying to find the right description for this independent gastronomic attitude (cuisine d’auteur?), I asked Aizpitarte ‘comment dites-vous l’expression ‘no bullshit’?’ He looked at me. ‘We say no bullshit’, he said. JD.
131 Avenue Parmentier 750111 Tel 33 1 55 28 78 88

Le Verre Volé, Paris

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 Another day, another wine bar, another platter of charcuterie, another chunk of sour Jean-Luc Poujouran’s pain levain. God I love Paris. And Le Verre Volé . The walls of this tiny place are lined with wine – it’s essentially a cave, a wine shop – and the worn wooden tables are lined with eccentric locals. It’s a good place to have andouillette, with its smell of the pissoir arriving from the tiny kitchen only moments before the plate; the fat, pale sausage spilling its guts – literally -  onto mashed potato and a few green leaves. I order a glass of Pouilly Fume. "It’s very fat, with great complexity," says the waiter. What a coincidence. That’s just how I feel, too.  TD.

67 Rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris. Tel 33 148031734

Soho Hotel, London

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

Let loose from the tyranny of porridge or fruit and yoghurt, breakfast on holidays ends up being different every day – the cravings being very dependent on the local circumstances and what went on the night before. This morning, an egg and bacon roll was required. And the best egg and bacon roll is definitely at the deliciously located Soho Hotel in the heart of Soho, because the bread has just the right amount of give, the butter, eggs, and bacon are all real (and thery ask you exactly what you want and how you want it), and the whole thing comes together in the hand as one. JD.
Soho Hotel, 4 Richmond Mews, London W1 Tel 44 2 75593000

Relae, Copenhagen

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

"That’s where the Redzepis always sit," says Kim Rossen of Relae. Well, if the Redzepis turn up, we’ll move. But until then, we’ll sit up at the bar watching Christian Puglisi and his team plate up some beautiful, simple, blindingly contemporary food in what is tantamount to a party atmosphere. Relae has two short menus of four dishes, mostly plants, with each ingredient at its height. Chicken hearts with babycorn. Leeks with mustard crumbs. Baby celeriac with seaweed veils. And this lovely dish of sheeps milk yoghurt, radishes and nasturtiums. Says Kim: "We cook what we like. We play the music we like. We serve the wine we like." At last! That’s what we want all restaurants to do! JD.

Jaegersborggade 41, Copenhagen Tel +45 3696 6609

Nahm, Bangkok

CAPTION. <I>Graphic: Photographer</i>

 So much is smoked, cured, salted, and above all, fermented, in David Thompson’s flagship Thai restaurant in The Metropolitan Hotel in Bangkok; the leaves, the chillies, the prawns, the fish, the garlic. It gives a wild, almost carnal quality to the food here, like eating a rich, smelly blue cheese as opposed to sanitised cheese slices. "It’s definitely where we’re going with our food here," says Thompson. Serpenthead fish, for instance, is salted and sun-dried for two days, then deep-fried until it’s pull-apartable into crunchy splinters. Get some help to put together an order of hot, cold, wet and dry dishes but don’t miss the feral, dark cassia leaf curry if it’s on, or the white turmeric salad with prawns, pork and chicken. Dining is a leisurely affair in the dark, tropical space, and the cooking is uncompromising, sophisticated and bloody hot. JD.

The Metropolitan, 27 South Sathorn Road, Tungmahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok Tel 662 625 3333

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Too Funny .....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quality Time

Let's face it, we only get back closer with our parents and realise the need to spend more time with them as we get older ... it doesn't have to be that way, the sooner we realise that the better.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Japanese Food Is Some Seriously Gay Food ...

Seriously funny, must get the book Gay Men Don't Get Fat. I mean it really make sense. Food can be classified into gay, straight or even lesbian. I give you the 3 choices and you label them accordingly: double-decker double beef burger with bacon and fried egg; rocket leaves, pine nuts, mixed garden salad; california roll and salmon skin roll. Soooo easy.... Straight food is full of protein and fat, usually not much different from the real thing when it was alive and usually involves a lot of frying (i.e. cut a slab of meat from the cow, little processing). Gay food is basically stuff that used to be huge but whittled down, went through many processes, beautifully presented, little and clean, frowns on fried stuff ... Lesbian food is earthy, full stop. Soooo simple.

Joshua Bright for The New York Times
In a new book, Simon Doonan categorizes food as "gay" or "straight."

“HERE’S a good example of what we’re talking about,” Simon Doonan said. My Cuban sandwich had just arrived, pressed flat and bulging with cheese. He was giving it a withering once-over.
Simon Doonan's book.
“You must be on guard when you see a panini coming toward you, because they can cram an enormous amount of meat and cheese in there,” said Mr. Doonan, the author, humorist-provocateur and creative ambassador at large for Barneys New York. “They’re not as little as they look. And then adjacent to that is this dollop of guacamole with, quelle horreur, what are clearly deep-fried chips.”
As if fending off a lard-sucking vampire, Mr. Doonan held up his fork and knife as a makeshift cross.
“There’s a lethal amount of fat in guacamole,” he went on. “A friend of mine was just going off to Mexico, and I said to her: ‘If you get kidnapped, remember to tell your kidnappers: no guacamole. You cannot be in a confined space ingesting guacamole. You’ll become so enormous.’ ”
But wait, I wondered. Isn’t avocado supposed to be good for your skin?
“Maybe if you apply it topically,” he said.
Either way, those chips were all wrong. “Gay chips are baked,” he said. “Straight chips are deep-fried. It’s that simple.”
Mr. Doonan, slim and sprightly at 59, was doing his best to guide me through the dietary pitfalls of a typical lunch in the city. In his eyes, my problem was not merely that I was prone to eating too much, but also that I ate the way a lot of straight men automatically do: with gluttonous, meat-and-cheese-and-avocado-mad disregard for the repercussions.
If I wanted to slim down after the holidays, he suggested, I should try to eat like a gay man.
One of the tongue-in-cheek propositions of Mr. Doonan’s new book, “Gay Men Don’t Get Fat” (Blue Rider Press, $24.95), is that the vast range of the world’s culinary options can be boiled down to two core categories: gay food and straight food. Seeking out a balanced diet of both is the savviest way to stay svelte. Think of it, if you must, as bisexual eating.
“Mix it up,” he said. “Gay men don’t stay trim because they only eat gay food. I don’t live on macarons and lettuce.”
In fact, Mr. Doonan had selected our dining spot, the Knickerbocker Bar and Grill in Greenwich Village, because, he said, its kitchen managed to get that blend right. (And, well, maybe because the place was across the street from the apartment he shares with his husband, the designer Jonathan Adler.)
“It’s actually a very good mixture of gay and straight,” he said, as he surveyed the Knickerbocker’s menu. “Just the words ‘baby arugula salad’ — you know you have some gay options. But then it’s balanced out with some real classics. We have Black Angus meatloaf — that’s the Burt Reynolds of foods.”
And balance, he counseled, was key. A gentleman might succumb to meatloaf, sure, but instead of pairing it with mashed potatoes, he should ask for a salad as a substitute. “Because the Black Angus meatloaf, that’s a whole lot of hetero to digest,” he said.
Dining with Mr. Doonan is like lunching with the “Jersey Shore”-era grandnephew of Oscar Wilde. It does not take long to figure out that his self-helpish bons mots should be sprinkled with liberal shakes of sodium. And it might be pointed out that he’s putting an extreme, satirical spin on tropes and stereotypes that have been in circulation for 30 years, ever since “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” drew a similar line in the culinary sand. (His book title is, of course, a wink at the best-selling “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”)
Nevertheless, there are times when his thoughts on the sexual orientation of food can be unexpectedly eye-opening. Straight food, according to the Doonan rubric, tends to be leaden, full of protein, thick with fat. Consider the grub he grew up with in England.
“British food used to be so straight when I was a kid,” he said. “Haggis. Horrible stews. Boiled greens that were gray. Now they’ve gayed it up, and British food is incredible.”
The way he sees it, gay food is lighter and brighter. It feels art-directed, not just tossed together and deep-fried, with an attention to aesthetic and dietary detail.
“Gay foods are more decorative; they’re more frivolous,” he said. “The macaron craze is the ne plus ultra of gay fooderie. I can’t believe any red-blooded straight guy can even walk into a macaron shop. If you wanted to ruin a politician’s career, just publish a picture of him shopping for macarons.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Doonan freely uses “lesbian” to describe certain earthy, healthful foods.
“Organic olive oil, thick porridge, heaping helpings of wheat germ,” he said. “A crusty loaf of whole-grain bread is both ferociously lesbian and wildly heterosexual.”
Mexican food? The ultimate in straight cuisine. Sushi? Its opposite.

“Japanese food — that is some seriously gay food,” Mr. Doonan mused. “I’ve been to restaurants in Japan where they bring out a watermelon in its entirety and they open it up and inside it’s full of ice and one little pink piece of sushi in the middle. Basically, you’re taking sloppy bits of fish and making them into these exquisite little bonbons, and that seems inordinately gay to me.”

Joshua Bright for The New York Times
The book advises men to eat more as gay men do to stay svelte.

Of course, Mr. Doonan knows what you’re thinking.
“I love sweeping generalizations,” he said. “Sweeping generalizations are the key to everything, and they invariably contain nuggets of truth. Sometimes infinitesimally small nuggets.”
And while “Gay Men Don’t Get Fat” is largely laid out as a larkish lifestyle primer for his female fans (“Most of my books are aimed at empowering women,” he said), many of his most piercing generalizations have to do with the feeding rituals of his heterosexual brethren. (Not that he’s likely to persuade many to change their ways.)
“I have a lot of straight friends,” he said. “And a lot of them are a very different shape. The word ‘burly’ springs to mind. And that’s a function of eating too many meatloafs, too many steaks, too many jumbo burritos.”
During lunch, he endeavored to steer me away from predictably straight choices. But my habits were hard to break. He advised me to have a salad. I wanted to start with the Caesar. Mr. Doonan winced, then sighed.
“Um,” he said. “A Caesar salad’s pretty heterosexual. They whip a lot of egg into it.”
Mr. Doonan, who was nattily dressed in a velvet Thom Browne blazer and a custom-made Liberty print shirt, opted for a plate of field greens followed by a bantam bowl of black bean soup. He dodged the glob of sour cream on top. I thought it seemed a rather meager repast. What if he got hungry later?
“I’m a big believer in dried fruit,” he said. “Figs. Dates. Raisins. You have to be careful with the dried apricots because they really do make you gassy.”
How about almonds?
“Yeah,” he said warily. “I’ll do an almond. Or two. Not a fistful. You know when you get those mixed nuts on a plane? If I’m sitting next to a straight guy, he’ll basically take the little container and heave it into his mouth.”
Considering his level of restraint, it came as a surprise that Mr. Doonan had not ruled out sweets.
“They do have something for you on the dessert menu,” he said, reading aloud. “ ‘Churros: traditional Spanish doughnut sticks. Dusted with cinnamon-sugar, served with dulce de leche and chocolate dipping sauce’ — as if they weren’t fatty and heinous enough! They could have stopped at the doughnut sticks and served it with a little fruit compote, but noooo.”
Still, he was craving something simple, elemental, straight.
“Desserts now have a very gay sensibility,” he said. “If you’re looking for a basic apple pie, you’re going to be out of luck.” He kept scanning the menu. “There’s a fresh-baked pie of the day. See, I want to know what that is. I might succumb to it. Because I’ve been quite abstemious.”
Mr. Doonan asked about the pie.
“It’s a cappuccino mousse with an Oreo-cookie crust and whipped cream,” the waiter replied.
Mr. Doonan made a gurgling sound.
“I thought it was maybe going to be organic pears lightly braised in ...” he said, then trailed off.
“We are, how you say, comfort food,” the waiter said.
“Yes,” Mr. Doonan said. “Thank you.”
The waiter dashed off. I asked my lunch companion if he’d be finishing off with that pie.
“God,” he said. “Are you out of your mind?”