New Column Alert! Alimentary Canal Debuts

The Alimentary Canal is a weekly journal, a dialogue, a diatribe and many other things, mostly a shower of absurdities. There is no real goal. No parameters. No consistent subject matter. File it under miscellaneous. While it may not always be good, like everything else we're forced to swallow in life, it goes down.

Alimentary Canal 1.

Long ago, couched in an attitude now far, far away, I considered my "out-of-office reply" a serious piece of communication, as there was a time when one could truly be out-of-office. In bouncing between restaurants, classes and demonstrations I don't know if I was ever in-office; however, I was often close to a wired internet connection and a desktop computer for part of my day. Now, laptop, iPad and iPhone are always nearby, almost begging to be used, sirens with shiny screens and high def photos. To be out of touch is a luxury and a conscious effort. The always-on nature of the restaurant business makes such an effort almost Herculean.

So, for one to claim that he is unavailable when even the bus station has wi-fi is really to say, "Leave me leave me leave me leave me leave me alone" — thank you, Lou Reed. As this is universally known, it has become somewhat of a game, at least among our food professional colleagues, to set up witty, goofy and sardonic email auto-replies; a knowing wink that says, "I've left the building...if for but a moment."

I woke up to this a couple years ago when I had posted a simple, innocuous auto-reply one holiday week:

"Beginning December 22nd I will have no access to emails until January 4th.

happy holidays!


To which one of my close friends and colleagues responded:

"You are an enormous homo."

When I pursued this to determine if he were really asking me to switch teams (and join him), he simply told me I should lend a bit of style to my on vacation auto-reply. To kick off this weekly column — one that is sure to have a certain style while focusing on no one subject in particular — we thought we'd share a few out-of-office responses that we've recently enjoyed. We have changed and/or omitted the names to protect the privacy of those who may not want their flair aired to the masses:

• "happy holidays and buone feste. i am celebrating the new year and the anniversary of the birth of many christian and pagan heroes this week and am unavailable to answer your email.. in honor of the heroes eventual death, i am casting your email on the pyre on new years eve and will not see this...... buon anno nuovo!!"

• "as I have been recently overtaken by the police in juarez mexico, I will be unable to respond to your email. it is possible that a roving gang of thugs may indeed delete all of my messages between 5 and 18 july, so to ensure a prompt response, please feel free to send me your message upon my release into the wild (that's after 18 july) cheers"

• "Travel Log #174: I have been sequestered by customs officials in an undisclosed location for the alleged importation of the rarest of the rarest of the rare, alarmingly unhygienic, fuzzy, funky and fermented meat products. They tell me I will be quarantined without access to email, phone, text, or human contact of any kind until Friday July 8th at which time they, them and theirs believe, in all their infinite wisdom, that I will be safe to re-enter society. That is, my meat germs will no longer be contagious. Until that time, these bureaucratic pederasts will no doubt be sorting through my emails and dumping anything entering my inbox between now and then. So, it's safe to assume that if you are reading this message I will not be reading yours. love and kisses"

• "Episode #327, in which John and Peter Summer fly to Kyrgyzstan to find the Lost Samogon of Bishkek."

• "Episode #328, in which John and Kate toast the Lushes of London and the Boozers of Bruges. Season ends July 13"

• "I will be unable to read your messages because technology sucks"

• "We sail tonight for Singapore

We're all as mad as hatters here

I've fallen for tawny moor

Took off to the land of Nod

The captain is a one-armed dwarf

He's throwing dice along the wharf

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King

clearly i am out"

Feel free to post funny, witty, fun auto-responses you've come across or written into the comments. No duds, please.

The Alimentary Canal is written and compiled by Jori Jayne Emde and Zakary Pelaccio.

Zakary Pelaccio is a partner and founder of the Fatty Crew (Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue), a recovering optimist, a father, an occasional teacher ( and cook, and a strong adherent to the philosophy that even though the world sucks we should still treat each other with kindness. And yes, he's on twitter: @zakarypelaccio

Jori Jayne Emde is a sassy native Texan who lives and works closely with Zakary Pelaccio. She is a bon vivant and producer of unique condiments, elixirs & hooch in her spare time. She studied food at Texas Culinary Academy and has worked in a few fantastic restaurants in New York City. You can keep up with her on tumblr.