Sometimes I go too far. I can’t help myself. On occasion, the Mr. Hyde in me emerges and he’ll ruin a perfect evening, but never — when it comes to fine food anyway — did I think he’d spoil my first dining review.
So I’m at Lung Fung’s, this Chinese restaurant located in rustic Boerne, Texas, about 25 miles west of San Antonio. The food is scrumptious. I could eat it from a trough. A family-run eatery, run by Annie and Alan Wong, the diner is popular throughout the rolling Texas hill country.
There We Are
The booth is comfy. We sit in a cozy corner. Our window offers a picaresque sunset as my party enjoys its meals. All of a sudden — creeping along my peripheral vision — I spot a cockroach moseying across the floor like it owns the place. It’s black. The inch-long bug has serrated legs and tiny pincers.
So what, I tell myself, it’s nothing. We’re having a great time. Things happen. I can’t help wonder, however, if the other patrons will take it as lightly. I decide to help, call the waiter.
Tactfully, I report the “bug.”
The young Asian turns. Then he looks back. He says, “That’s not a cockroach.”
I smile. Nod.
“That’s a beetle!” he says.
Enter Mr. Hyde
The late comic John Belushi of “Saturday Night Live” fame pops into my head. As I recall my favorite of his many characters, the maniacal Samurai chef, I imagine our server wielding a sword. I’m amused.
“Either way,” I say, “it’s not on the menu, is it?”
He braces thin hands on slender hips.
Okay, not funny.
Suddenly the house is listening. Forks do not tinkle against plates. Ice does not slosh in glasses. I hear no one eating. In my companions’ eyes, I see riling flickers of curiosity.
“Apparently,” the waiter says, “you’re not from here.”
I stare, wondering what he means.
He explains that occasionally ground beetles swarm the town. Drawn to light and cooler temperatures, the harmless bugs steal into homes and buildings, and there’s nothing a person can do about it.
“Yeah,” says Mr. Hyde, “and they never get into the food?”
He’s stiff. I see a glint of ire in his black eyes. “There are no cockroaches in our food,” he says, speaking loud enough for all to hear.
I point. “No beetles like that one?”
Restraining Mr. Hyde, summoning Dr. Jekyll, I think to explain that I’m a dining critic. (He needn’t know this is my first review.) But I can’t go on. It’s too late. I’ve ruined it.
Just … go … home.
Imagine. The event happened about 2007. A good word certainly is long overdue — not to mention this apology. Now that I’ve lived in the area longer, moreover, I humbly concede that swarms of ground beetles do indeed invade us. It’s mating time. Light draws them. Like the rest of us, the bugs prefer the cooler indoors. They make the nastiest crunching sound when stepped on.
But do eat at Lung Fung’s. The food is delicious. Its chef, the honorable Mr. Alan Wong, can assure you that his tasty dishes aren’t flavored by beetle juice.