Dining on Upscale Food-Court Leftovers

The “Emporium” food court in downtown San Francisco’s Westfield mall features gourmet food, handsome signage (1, 2), downtown prices, and — in the case of many of the restaurants — reassuringly hefty metal silverware.

I’m no freegan and I’m probably not much greener than the average San Franciscan, but let me tell you something: I have no problem poaching and eating a hunk of still-hot leftover salmon that I’ve just watched get abandoned by a healthy-looking fellow mall shopper sporting a Juicy Couture shopping bag.

I didn’t eat the leftover food in the following pictures because I’m thrifty (my wonderful wife Katie will tell you I’m not thrifty, even though I am thrifty), and I didn’t eat the food because doing so reduces my so-called carbon footprint by keeping waste out of landfills (although that’s a tidy, unassailable fringe benefit). I ate this food because I was hungry and it looked delicious.

Dining on Westfield food-court leftovers, downtown San Francisco.

Salmon abandoned by beautiful woman.

Nothing wrong with this piece of cod.

85% untouched meal. I salvaged the chicken.

I passed this one up because I was getting full.

Ahh, coffee. (I paid for this.)

I ate the food, it made me full, and I didn’t get sick. I plan to strike again before too long, and I’ll keep striking until I find a good reason not to.

Such is the power of the Westfield food court’s elegant design: I am smitten by its spitbacks; a spell has been cast on my (evidently wussy) better judgment; and I honestly can’t wait to return there for another food grab, even though the space is really just a giant basement annex to a dingy subway terminal. (There are no windows anywhere — it’s kind of a dark environment.)

I hope the Merlin-grade retail magicians who crafted the Westfield mall’s Emporium food court have received substantial pay raises and multiple industry awards. They’ve earned ’em!

6 thoughts on “Dining on Upscale Food-Court Leftovers

  1. Brian McMullen Post author

    @Cole Amity: I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    @CHB: I agree that my average-guy looks probably help. I don’t look like I don’t belong at a mall food court. On the other hand, I don’t believe the food court’s security team is doing me a favor or giving my behavior a pass just because I look a certain way. If my scavenging were to get officially noticed, I bet I’d be approached, questioned, and asked to stop. Just like a homeless guy would be. What a shame to waste all that just-fine food.

    @Jane: I too would like to see an Arcade Fire “AF” T-shirt that could be mistaken, at a glance, for an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. Nice idea. If you manage to come up with sketches for such a shirt, feel free to post them here in the comments.

  2. Jane Tirthankara

    Abercrombie & Fitch has the same initials as Arcade Fire. I’d like to see a “Sprawl II” inspired Arcade Fire T-shirt that exploits the latent design potential of this coincidence. Overn out.

  3. Jane Tirthankara

    This post reminds me bittersweetly of the wonderful new Arcade Fire song “Sprawl II” (which reminds me of the wonderful old U2 song “Where the Streets Have No Name”). As the Arcade Fire singer sings, “Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains.” Each new mall eats the leftovers of the last. Will your Westfield mall still exist in 15 years? I was surprised to see the nearby Virgin Megastore die. And yet it is dead. The moral of the story is: We all die and hope our leftovers will be palatable.

  4. CHB

    More power to you. Of course, you’re only able to do this because you’re a respectable looking gentleman with a classy haircut. If you were homeless, you’d be shooed away in a minute.