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Talking Fine And Less-Fine Dining, With Liz Cook

Steaks on a grill at the Las Vegas Food And Wine Festival, in the before times.
Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Barcelona Enterprises

If Drew and I were left to our own devices, The Distraction would probably not be a food podcast. For one thing, Drew and I are mostly left to our own devices, and the shape of every episode is guided mostly by our shared and mostly vestigial sense of sportswriterly duty and some latent shame-related reflexes, as well as my cohost’s preference to get everything done in well under an hour. For another, as much as Drew and I care about food and enjoy having sincere heart-to-hearts about various sandwiches that we have enjoyed in the past, we are aware that simply going on the podcast every week and talking about the aforementioned sandwiches would do none of us any good. We have other interests, and the world is full of other things to be wrong about, but that tension—the visceral pull back towards talking about Gross Drinks We Have Drunk or the now-twice-mentioned sandwiches of yore—helps keep us in line, to the extent that we are kept in line. To the extent that the podcast has a given shape from one week to the next, it is determined mostly by us steering resolutely away from that skid.

This week, though, we didn’t. We were joined by the Kansas City-based god-tier food writer Liz Cook, the auteur behind the Haterade newsletter, and indulged ourselves by both talking about food we’ve enjoyed/gross alcohols we’ve not-enjoyed and traversing the forbidden meta regions of The Food Discourse.

It helped immeasurably that Liz was both a delightful talker and extremely patient with our bullshit, and even those who do not obsessively read reviews of restaurants at which they will never dine will likely enjoy listening to her talk about it. The “patience” part, as always, will be tested by Drew and me constantly being wrong about things—about soccer movies, for instance, and about which team with the word “United” in its name David Peace’s book and Tom Hooper’s movie The Damned United is about in my case and about whether Thierry Henry qualifies as a Guy instead of a Dude in Drew’s.

That said, the back half of this podcast is not a place of objective truth. It is a playground full of broken slides and weirdly fragrant gravel, a metaphorical lawsuit waiting to happen, and not a damn library. As always, we treated it as such, by plucking from the Funbag a question about whether The Blue Angels are wack or not that became an exploration of how much Drew enjoyed Van Halen’s video for the song “Dreams,” and by talking about movies we not only haven’t seen but really even read that much about, and by generally behaving like goofballs. This is always the way, of course. At least this time we got to eat.

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