My husband eyes the overstuffed bags of groceries in the back of the car and starts hauling them in. "I know why you got so much food," he said. "Our son is coming home."
"Yeah, and I now I am competing with Google," I replied.
Most kids away from home and out in the business world are nostalgic for their mom's home cooking. And my son probably has some happy thoughts of getting a few of his favorites prepared for him -- Asian slaw, medium-rare brownies, smoked ribs and paella.
But I went to lunch at his Google office in Manhattan one day last month after I received a Google Calendar invitation via email. Attached was a Google map with directions. I pushed the "accept" button and it posted on my Google calendar. How cool was that? Of course, as soon as I queued up in security with all those twenty-somethings I felt like an antique. I tried to act nonchalant and did a lot of texting in line like everyone else.
My son met me on the fourth floor and walked me through a labyrinth of hallways. Suddenly we were in a "cafe." Parked in the middle of the room was a entire food truck that had been carried up on an freight elevator. All around were photos of celebrity chefs who had taken a turn at feeding the hungry masses of Googlers. But that was only one cafe. I walked though several more awesome buffets -- grilled sea bass, stir-fried Asian greens, pizza from wood-burning ovens, homey apple crisps that smelled like a grandmother's kitchen, salad bars, Latino, Asian, and Italian foods -- anything you could want and as much as you wanted.
And he didn't need mom to tell him to eat healthy. The food was healthy and even came with color-coded labels ranking and categorizing the nutritional value of each item of food. I felt like I was on one of those high-speed Google searches bouncing through one awesome food display after another not even able to take it all in. My own personal processor blew a fuse early on so I just myself be led around. I wanted to snap a few photos but didn't want to look like someone's mom. I settled in with my plate full of food on a sunny terrace: roasted chicken, sautéed kale and a small piece of that grilled sea bass, a curried rice pilaf and assorted steamed veggies. I knew I would have to sample a chocolate chip cookie.
If you are lucky enough to work at Google you can eat a couple of meals a day there. Snacks, you ask? As I took the tour I was shown that are little kitchenettes and fridges every 150 feet or so all stocked with Tazo green tea, coffee drinks, juices and fruit.
Rest easy, all you Googler moms and dads. Your kids are well taken care of -- maybe too well. For sure you won't be having them move back in with you. You might have trouble getting them to come home at all. I knew at first bite that after years as Goldstein "Top Chef," I can't compete with Google on the food front. Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had trouble competing with Google, and look at their resources. Okay, so here's the deal, oh, son of mine: Hang out with me and you get three meals a day, as much as you can eat. Snacks too. And maybe I could get that new food truck from Vineyard Haven to come up and park on the front lawn one day. Deal? Text me your reply.