Fogo De Chao

And now a story from the Platinum Collection of Roberts Family stories.

When we moved to Florida in 1991, we stayed for a brief spell with my great-grandmother, Helen, in Sunrise Lakes. For those who have never been there, Sunrise Lakes is a community divided into Phases and each Phase has a pool, a shuffleboard court and a community center. Our story takes place in our family mini-van in front of the Phase II community center.

As we were driving along, my father–sturdy behind the wheel–spotted a flock of birds ahead. Coming from New York, there was little to think about. New York Driver’s Regulations clearly state that if a flock of birds sit dead ahead, drive into them and they will scatter away.

My father did just that. He drove ahead. And then.

THUMP. THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.

“BRAAAD!”

“DAAAD!”

“AAAH!”

* * * * * * * * *

The Great Duck Slaughter of 1991 is still talked about by Phase II residents.

“Those poor ducks didn’t know what hit them,” says Morris Schulman of Apartment 37G.

“I can still hear them quacking,” says Flora Nussbaum of 22H.

“I think that story explains a lot,” says Lauren on occasion. It’s her favorite story of mine.

Many lessons can be derived from that story, but one truth remains clear: I come from a family of blood-thirsty killers.

I mean look at my brother and I:

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Have you seen beasts more savage?

Our thirst for blood is insatiable and that is why I suggested that tonight our family dine at a meat-lovers paradise: Fogo De Chao.

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Located in Buckhead, Fogo De Chao has no menus. It has little circular cards. The cards allow for two forms of communication. By turning your card to the green side, you are saying: I WANT MEAT.

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By turning it to the red, you are saying: MY THIRST FOR BLOOD HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY SATED.

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To ease your carcass-craving conscience, the meal begins with a trip to a lavish salad bar.

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Giant asparagus teams with mozzarella and chants: “It’s not too late to go green!”

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Yet a bountiful bowl of sundried tomatoes acts like a matador’s cape, reminding you of the feasting ahead.

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“Ole!”

You stare down at the plate you have created, and feel a strange emptiness. “WHERE IS FLESH!” you demand, pounding the table.

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You nosh away at your olives, your bread, your roasted red peppers until your thirst overwhelms you. “MUST HAVE MEAT!” you declare, flipping your card to green.

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Immediately, Gaucheros are on the scene with large skewers of dripping meat.

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The Gauchero serves your mother and your eyes turn yellow with rage. “FEED ME GAUCHERO!” you demand.

The Gauchero approaches cautiously.

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You rip steak off the skewer and bite at it like a velociraptor. “MORE!” you implore. “MORE!”

“Yes sir, right away sir,” says the nervous Gauchero.

Soon more is brought and set down on your plate.

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“MORE!” the Roberts family sings, pounding the table. “MORE!”

Lauren grows a little uncomfortable.

“You guys, there’s plenty of meat,” she offers.

The Roberts family eats Lauren.

I eat a sausage.

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Unable to go on, I flip the card to red.

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“No more,” I tell the Gauchero politely, as he takes away my plate.

We regurgitate Lauren and pose for a family photo.**

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“That was good,” says my brother.

“Very,” says my father.

“I’m stuffed,” says my mother.

Lauren quivers with fright.

We exit into the cold night air. The valet brings our cars around. Loud organ music plays. Somewhere, in the distance, a duck quacks. The Roberts Family has eaten.

** I bring your attention to my delightful, colorful shirt. My brother made the following comment: “Did you lose a ring toss at a carnival?” My mother said: “Was I with you when you picked that out?” My father said: “It’s very eclectic.” But I love it. What do you think, America?

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