Chez Le Fourmilier II

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro of 3/25 returns us to Restaurant Row in Anteaterville:


(#1) The chef of Chez Le Fourmilier brings an ant farm to the table for the delectation of an enthusiastic diner wearing an ant bib (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

We were last here in my 5/29/18 posting “Chez Le Fourmilier”, about this Bizarro strip from 5/28/18:


(#2) A diner picks a particular tasty-looking ant from the formican equivalent of a lobster tank

From the 2018 posting.

A strenuous exercise in cartoon understanding: you need to be familiar with a certain kind of (seafood) restaurant, and to recognize both anteaters and a children’s educational toy known as an ant farm. And then to understand that the cartoon embodies a metaphorical translation from a seafood restaurant world to an anteater world.

Oh, the title of this posting. French masc. noun fourmilier ‘anteater’ < fourmi ‘ant’. French restaurant names of the form Chez N ‘at N’s’: Chez Henri; the Haitian restaurant Chez Le Bebe in Miami FL; etc.. Why not Chez Le Fourmilier ‘At the Anteater’s’?

The seafood-restaurant world. In particular, seafood restaurants with tanks of living creatures — lobsters, eels, clams, whatever — from which diners can make their own choice of a particular creature to be served as main course of their meal. In the U.S., the most common creatures afforded this treatment are lobsters, on display in a lobster tank (to which the anteater-world counterpart is the ant farm).

Here the 2018 posting has a section on lobster tanks and one on formicariums / formicaria, aka ant farms. And then:

The translation from one world to the other. … in [#2 above] we have a diner choosing a lobster from the lobster tank and his server congratulating him on his choice (note the bit of conventionalized service encounter, complete with the formula Excellent choice and the address term sir), and these participants are simultaneously cartoon anteaters contemplating an Uncle Milton ant farm.

Chez Le Formulier in 2020. In the intervening years, the restaurant has become a farm-to-table operation, and now the chef brings their locally sourced ant farm to the table, where the diner, sticky tongue at the ready, has protected himself from any messiness with a specially designed bib bearing a jaunty ant logo.

Farm to table. From Wikipedia:

Farm-to-table (or farm-to-fork, and in some cases farm-to-school) is a social movement which promotes serving local food at restaurants and school cafeterias, preferably through direct acquisition from the producer (which might be a winery, brewery, ranch, fishery, or other type of food producer which is not strictly a “farm”). This might be accomplished by a direct sales relationship, a community-supported agriculture arrangement, a farmer’s market, a local distributor or by the restaurant or school raising its own food.

The ant bib. In the real world, they’re lobster bibs, but in Anteaterville they are, of course, ant bibs. To start with, bibs, from NOAD:

noun bib-1: a piece of cloth or plastic fastened around a person’s neck to keep their clothes clean while eating. ORIGIN late 16th century: probably from bib-2.

verb bib-2: [with object] archaic drink (something alcoholic). ORIGIN late Middle English: probably from Latin bibere ‘to drink’.

(That’s a double probably in the etymology. I’d always enjoyed the idea that bib and bibulous were related, but now it seems that that’s not so sure.)

Lobster bibs for adults are mostly disposable plastic or paper, but sometimes washable cotton. From the Webstaurant (portmanteu alert!) store site:


(#3) Disposable poly lobster bib ($22.99 for box of 500)

Perfect for crab feasts, seafood restaurants, and special events, this brightly colored adult poly lobster bib will add a festive atmosphere to any dining experience. This bib conveniently ties behind the neck so guests don’t have to worry about losing their bib halfway through their meal. And, your staff will appreciate the easy clean up at the end of the night, as they simply collect the bibs and throw them away.

Compare #3 to the ant bib in #1.

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