Articles,  Radio Hour

Companion-Inspired Menu


by David Verdugo

David’s essay is featured in episode 47 of The Dirty Spoon Radio Hour.

Companion-Inspired Menu

Throughout my extensive career as a chef, I have experienced on my own palate how a dish can subtly change in flavor depending on the companions with whom it is enjoyed. Some dishes can inspire a memory, others are ideal for venting frustrations, others become a cozy refuge from an overwhelming dining companion, and still others can bring hidden passions to bloom. 

Specific events in my life, such as a date, a divorce, or a simple work meeting, inspired me to create a cuisine of dishes conceived according to the companions and the feelings they inspire in us, enhancing, transforming, or attenuating them. I devised several of these dishes as a mental evasion exercise on some of those unbearable occasions.

The menu we present to you aims at the difficult task of creating a unique sensory experience that allows us to connect the taste, texture, and even the temperature at which each dish is served, with the feelings inspired by the diners with whom we share them. Selecting dishes according to the companion will allow us to obtain a totally new and different culinary experience.

Ours is, therefore, a cuisine inspired by ‘feelings’.



‘All in tip’ crudités

Asparagus tips, halved radish tips and baby corn tips on an ‘ultra-invigorating’ dip of full-fat cream cheese, sour cream, grated Parmesan, crushed garlic clove, lemon zest and lemon juice. Special for snacking with dates, boyfriends/girlfriends and all kinds of affairs. Never order with in-laws. 

‘I’ve hit rock bottom’ tapenade 

Broccoli florets, baby Chantenay carrots, cauliflower florets and small Vittoria tomatoes or other boring conjugal life vegetables on a ‘bed’ of crushed black olive paste, very bitter capers, black garlic cloves and salted anchovies, which will not leave you indifferent at all. To share with your life partner.

Peri Peri hummus 

Creamy brined chickpea hummus with Peri Peri African sauce made from spicy bird’s eye chili peppers. Served with your choice of pita chips, tortilla chips, potato wedges or vegetables. To send customers into orbit or settle a score with a friend.


‘Closes mouths’ spicy soup 

Roasted red bell pepper soup with a pleasant smoky flavor intensified with cumin and smoked paprika with a generous spoonful of Harissa paste that adds a spicy touch reinforced with a little cayenne. Served with garlic and herb cheese au gratin. Ideal for ‘talking’ to your ex-spouse about alimony or for further crushing friends and clients.

‘Alone in the Face of Danger’ burrata and tomato salad  

Burrata surrounded by baby plum tomatoes marinated with olive oil, red wine vinegar, red onion, aromatic herbs, salt and pepper. Served with sprinkled basil leaves and toasted ciabatta bread spread with raw garlic. A salad full of flavor to take refuge during dinner from the overwhelming demands of the boss, or the ex, or from insipid conversations.

‘My boss’s liver’ pâté on brioche 

Duck liver pâté, just think of it as your boss’s offal, cooked over very, very low heat, as low as you can, on a sauté of onion and butter, with cream, a pinch of salt and ground black pepper. It is served on toasted brioche and topped with a little cranberry sauce. A dish specially created to be enjoyed slowly and to relieve stress.

Main Courses 

‘Ball-ripping’ meatballs 

Calf or bull testicle meatballs, your choice depending on how you remember your ex, stuffed with Danish blue cheese and glazed in a slightly acidic and spicy buffalo sauce. They are garnished with sour cream on top of which fresh chives are sprinkled and an insinuating celery stalk is placed. All the pleasure of smashing his balls to bits. Dish recommended after traumatic separations.

Mother-in-law’s heart stew

Korean-style beef stew with cabbage kimchi and ginger, sautéed with mushrooms, garlic, gochujang hot sauce, chili flakes and tamari soy sauce. It all pairs perfectly to recreate the black heart of mother-in-law. Served on a bed of cooked rice, sesame oil and scallions sprinkled on top. Ideal for venting frustrations.

‘Hidden Passions’ cod en papillote

Cod baked en papillote on a passionate Sicilian vegetable caponata that has been left to rest for at least a day for the flavors to fully develop. Its characteristic sweet and sour flavor results from the mixture of vegetables with balsamic vinegar, golden sultanas and toasted pine nuts. A dish conceived to reveal hidden passions and overcome our fears.

Carnal marriage

Perfect marriage of sirloin steak with a beautiful caramelized crust and blue cheese sauce made from the meat juices and a thick cream base with St. Agur cheese and a fresh touch of chives. It can be served with crispy smashed potatoes, mini Hasselback potatoes or Dauphinoise potatoes, and also with vegetables. To enjoy the meat during the meal and, if desired, also afterwards.

Chef’s Specialties

Tasty scraps bouillabaisse

A hearty soup made from shrimp shells and fish trimmings on a tomato base enriched with onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, fennel and saffron. Fish of all kinds of creeping, spiny and even poisonous species are added, such as conger eel, scorpion fish, monkfish, snapper and sea spider. It is served as a unique dish, a chef’s specialty of intense flavor to recompose us from our own miseries. Especially intended to enjoy with someone who has destroyed our lives.

Mysterious bouillabaisse

In this variant the chef does not want to know where the ingredients come from, nor if they are seafood or meat, nor from what animal they originate, if they come from any animal, boss, ex-spouse, client, parent-in-law or lover. He leaves it to our vindictive creativity.


For the selection of desserts, it is essential to be properly accompanied.

Mini meringue kisses

Meringues with the base alternately coated in white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate, sprinkled with pieces of hazelnuts, pistachios, coconut and chopped chocolate. Ideal to formalize relationships. Never eat alone.

Passion fruit pudding

Fluffy coconut sponge cake on a base of passion fruit cream with coconut milk and vanilla. It is served topped with icing, dusted with sugar, smothered with whipped cream. To share spoonful by spoonful, gradually igniting passions. It is recommended to look your partner in the eyes.

Hazelnut and brandy ‘Te tira su’

Cold tiramisu cake assembled in alternating layers of sponge cake moistened with coffee and mascarpone cream cheese, flavored with brandy, covered with cocoa powder, and textured with hazelnuts. An invigorating sweet that ‘lifts the spirits’ (and other things), with immediate effect thanks to its high carbohydrate content.


Chartreuse of Oblivion

Liqueur elaborated by the Carthusian monks of the Alps. Its elaboration involves more than 120 herbs and spices macerated in wine brandy, with a high alcohol content of 43% to 55%. Perfect to completely forget about any unbearable companion, spouse, or boss.

Highland Drambuie

Whisky liqueur, made from malt whisky, herbs and heather honey, according to a secret 18th century formula preserved in Scotland. It will lift us to the ‘highlands’ and we will not return from them until we enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Spell-breaking Strega

Italian liqueur, made with herbs and tamed with sweetness to a cool 40% alcohol, its invention is attributed to the witches (the strega). For a last taste of your ex and to break the spell for good.

If you have chosen carefully, according to the feelings inspired by your companions, we are sure that you will enjoy a unique culinary experience, rich in flavors as subtle as they are intense.

Original artwork by Alex Knighten

About the Author

David Verdugo is a Spanish writer trying to make his way into the English language market under the pseudonym Dave Hangman. In English, he has already published stories in the anthology “Superstition” by Redwood Press, and in the magazines “The Sprawl Mag,” “History Through Fiction,” “Tales from the Moonlit Path” and “Bright Flash Literary Review” and has received three honorable mentions in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contests for 4Q2021, 1Q2022 and 3Q2022. In Spanish, he has collected four books of short stories that intermingle very different genres: magical realism, crime, horror, historical fiction, epic fantasy, and science fiction.

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