Guy Fieri has lots of little catchphrases he throws around to indicate a dish in question is tasty. Things can be “outta bounds” or “slamma jamma” or, occasionally, “bananas,” usually followed by the qualifier “and bananas is good.” There are many others. It’s part of his whole schtick, along with the pineapple haircut and multiple wristbands and flame-emblazoned bowling shirts. But the most famous and versatile of his array of patented zany synonyms for “good” has got to be “Flavortown,” which he wields like Swiss Army knife. A sampling, courtesy of the short-lived, valuable Internet research site Sh*tGuyFieriSays:
- “I’m mining for food in Flavortown River.”
- “… like a speed-bump in Flavortown.”
- “It’s like a hot-dog lasso on the ranch in Flavortown.”
- “That’s in the tank that fuels the bus that goes to Flavortown.”
- “I feel like I’m in lasagna surgery here at Flavortown Memorial.”
- “You can find that dictionary at the Flavortown Library.”
Those are … really specific. Almost too specific. There’s a hospital, library, and ranch, as well as a river and a fully-functioning public transportation system. And apparently the town has a problem with #teenz racing around in parking lots, which has gotten so bad that it required the construction of speed-bumps. (Perhaps the Style Section of the Flavortown Times should do a trend piece on it.) All of which raises a question that I want all of you to think long and hard about: Do you think maybe Guy Fieri thinks Flavortown is a real place?
Now, just hear me out here. I’m not saying I think Guy Fieri is totally delusional and has conjured up a completely fictional metropolitan area that he makes frequent visits to in his mind and whose mayor is a dancing chili dog named Tex Frankfurter. (I’m not not saying that either, for the record.) I’m saying, what if Guy Fieri thinks there’s a real place called Flavortown somewhere out there, off the map and possibly lost to time and the elements, kind of like how salty old sea captains used to talk about Atlantis?
It would put a whole new spin on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, wouldn’t it? Now, instead of a travel show about a bleached blonde porcupine criss-crossing the country in a classic convertible to shine a light on quirky, mom-and-pop restaurants, it becomes something entirely different: a tale of a weary explorer fruitlessly searching — always searching — for a lost culinary paradise, one with rivers that flow with Cheez Whiz and BBQ sauce, and gardens that are always in bloom with bacon trees and shrubs sprouting 20 ounce bottles of L.A. Looks Mega Mega Hold Rock Hard Fixation Gel. A place of legend. A place where he will finally belong.
Maybe that’s why he’s always referencing Flavortown on the show. Maybe it’s not a catchphrase, after all. Maybe he’s using it as a dog whistle, hoping that one day as he’s using it to describe the 7-Layer Burrito Bomb Salad at Uncle Slappy’s Grease Lagoon, the sound waves will float through the air and land in the one good ear of the scraggy-bearded, barrel-chested man eating alone in the corner booth, who will wave him over after the cameras stop rolling.
“Ay. You speak of Flavortown. What do you know of the place?” he’ll whisper in his gruff voice, only to continue before Guy Fieri has a chance to answer. “Because I’ve seen it, with my own two eyes, back when I was just a lad. I was traveling with my uncle. A good man, he was, even if a bit inclined toward “heart healthy” menu items at times. I was sleeping in the passenger seat when he nudged me to wake me up. I don’t know how long I’d been out. All I knew was that we were somewhere between Little Rock and Las Vegas, and the sun was setting. He motioned off to his left and smiled. My eyes grew large. There it was in all its glory, off in the distance, rising from the flat, barren Earth like an oasis. Flavortown. I could smell the sweet odor of cheeseburgers on a flat-top as we drove by, even through the rolled up windows. Hell, I can still smell it today. Something like that will change a man. I spent 60 years wandering that stretch of land trying to find it again. One time I thought I found it but it turned out I had just drunkenly stumbled into a Carl’s, Jr.”
“But why didn’t you just ask your uncle where it was?” Guy Fieri will interject, his eyes wide with wonder.
“Ask? You think I didn’t ask? I asked the old man every time I saw him, from the next morn until the day he passed. He never told me. He’d just get a twinkle in his eye and the left side of his mouth would curl into a knowing little half smile and he’d say ‘You don’t find Flavortown. Flavortown finds you.’ The bastard. I hated him then and I hate him now. I finally gave up looking two years ago, after I lost everything trying to find it: wife, house, job, sanity. It ruined me. Be careful, my young friend, for your journey is long and cursed. Take it from a broken soul who knows.”
But Guy Fieri won’t hear that last part. He’ll already be flipping his sunglasses down over his eyes and mentally mapping out his route. Now he’ll have confirmation: Flavortown is real, and it is out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. The search must continue.
Or something like that.