A mini-scandal erupted earlier this week in the delightfully crunchy City of Roses and, like many mini-scandals before it, it can be traced back to a single Reddit thread. The post in question, authored by flummoxed user oregone1, begins with a simple query: “Homeowners: How do you keep local sous chefs from harvesting urban edibles on your property?”
The original post goes on to read:
I have tried posting signs, yet they still seem to find a way into my yard to harvest everything from nettles and catmint to borage and grape leaves. I even built a six-foot tall fence, but they are still managing to get in. I have called the offending restaurants to ask them to tell their sous chefs to stop trespassing, but so far they seem undeterred. I have also offered to let them onto my property with my supervision, but they mostly seem to come out while I'm at work so everything can be prepped for their dinner service.
It was fine when they were just harvesting pineapple weed and mallow from the alley and the parking strip, although it was admittedly a little off-putting. I'm also totally cool with them picking the crab apples because some of the branches are in the public right of way. But yesterday my neighbor called to let me know she had to help a sous chef who got stuck on top of my fence holding a baggie full of chicory leaves.
I get that part of living in inner SE is dealing with locavore sous chefs and all the problems that follow them, but it is frustrating and kind of scary knowing that they are constantly combing my yard for garnishes while I'm away.
Also, I know all of this sounds silly, and I'll admit that it's a total first-world problem. But I'm being completely serious. I'm afraid that if I called the police about this, they would either laugh me off the phone or accuse me of making sh** up. Any ideas?
Obviously, there’s a very strong wink-wink undercurrent to this beleaguered Portlander’s dilemma leading many to think that this is all the satirical work of a rather clever troll (or maybe a "Portlandia" marketing stunt?).
Still, Redditors were more than happy to chime in with suggestions on how to keep foraging sous-chefs at bay including feeding stations with booze, clove cigarettes, motion detector sprinklers, surveillance cameras, armed guards, and signs warning of GMOs and pesticides. Another user suggested putting a bird on it (naturally). My personal favorite suggestions come via Gawker where commenters suggested deterring Portland’s sticky-fingered sous-chefs with scarecrows in Nickleback t-shirts, craft beer and/or bear traps, and bullmastiffs.
Shortly after the Reddit post starting drawing attention, local TV station KATU ran an interview with Martin Connolly, an apartment manager in Southeast Portland beset by roving bands of trespassing sous-chefs who are scaling a fence behind his apartment building and making off with wild weeds and greens growing on the property. He's certain it’s not the work of wild animals due to the lingering smell of brisket and the beard nets and recipes for “PDX Pork Belly” inadvertently left behind by the perps. While Connolly is not ID’d as Reddit user oregone1 by KATU's reporter, there’s no way it can’t be him. The stories match up perfectly.
“In some neighborhoods there's coyotes, some have skunks. Here, it's just sous-chefs and all the things that come with that,” says a straight-faced Connolly tells KATU. “I feel like Mr. McGregor.” To the KATU news team's credit, they do seem amused by the story and are probably thinking: "We think he's kidding but we can't be sure." But seriously, that should be Portland's new official slogan.
Connolly claims that despite repeated calls to local restaurants complaining of the trespassing being commited by their employees, the weed thievery continues. “Hide your dock, hide your mallow. No herb is safe.”
Bravo, Martin Connolly, bravo.
Via [Reddit] via [TIME], [Gawker]
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