I love food. I do. Despite my recent posting about usually skipping lunch, I’m a big fan of cooking, eating, and appreciating a meal of quality.

In the restaurant industry (which I’ll be the first to admit I know slim to nothing about) it’s considered a great honor to receive a Michelin star. Any Food Network or Top Chef hotshot licks the boots of a chef whose restaurant and cuisine have been graced by Michelin. But did you know that the Michelin guide is from the same tire company who uses this squishy bastard as their mascot?!? If anyone loves food, it’s this guy, who comes by his physique honestly.

I went to Wikipedia – the source for all things true and good on the interwebs – to learn more about this fascinating connection and learned the following:

André Michelin published the first edition of the guide in 1900 to help drivers maintain their cars, find decent lodging, and eat well while touring France. It included addresses of gasoline distributors, mechanics, and tire dealers, along with local prices for fuel, tires, and auto repairs. The guide began recognizing outstanding restaurants in 1926 by marking their listings with a star; two and three stars were added in the early 1930s.

Michelin operates on the principle that only anonymous, professionally trained experts can be trusted to make accurate, impartial assessments of a restaurant’s food and service (as opposed, for example, to the Zagat Survey, which relies on restaurant patrons for its reviews).

The Michelin inspectors write detailed reports, which are collated at company headquarters in Paris. All favorable ratings are distilled, at annual “stars meetings,” into rankings of 3 stars, 2 stars, 1 star, or no stars. Restaurants that Michelin deems unworthy of patronage are simply not included in the guide.

Am I super lame that I find all this fascinating? What essentially started out as a free AAA auto guide is now the culinary brass ring that some chefs live and die for. All run by a French tire company.

Speaking of AAA guide, here’s a funny story. While traveling with my wonderful mother, she spotted a listing in a AAA guide for a “quaint, colonial-style” inn in Pennsylvania that she thought would be a fun place to stay the night. But when we got there it was pretty much the most janky-ass, run-down, hillbilly shack ever. Even we, two ladies usually game for adventure, just looked at each other, nodded, and put the car into reverse. That’s when I quietly started singing this song, a childhood favorite. We laughed so hard we wheezed and cried. And a moment of disaster became a family legend.