• Brian McMullen

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!

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