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Martha Stewart for Manson

Where to eat before talking to a murderer

Photo by Stacy DaviesMy neighbor's a forensic psychologist. Think Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs but with a Doris Day disposition. Dr. Jody Ward runs her own practice in Tustin, and while you and I are schlepping hash at a diner, roping in a company merger, or pounding the keyboard in an effort to produce literature, Jody is sitting face to face with the Hillside Strangler. Often her clients are juvenile offenders and adult rapists. But no matter who they are, Jody never misses a meal.

OC Weekly:A basic day for you consists of sitting in a little room across from a violent crime or sex offender. Do you take lunch when you do this? Dr. Jody Ward:They don't allow food inside the jail. I try to eat beforehand because it's going to be a long process, and I need to be on top of it. So if you're thinking about pizza while you're talking to the rapist . . .

I have to pay attention and try to outsmart them. A lot of times, I'll try to go out to lunch with co-workers first.

Where do you like to go?

We like to go to Zov's in Tustin. It's Mediterranean.

What do you get?

The penne with chicken sausage.

So you get a dish with chopped-up meat in a red sauce before you go in and talk to a serial killer.

Well, I don't plan it that way. I'm usually pretty good at separating my lunch from my work, although we do have some very interesting lunch conversations. Sometimes, we consult on cases. You can't be too close to us when we're sitting at lunch. We try to keep it down.

If you do two cases, do you then go out to dinner instead or go home and cook?

I rarely come home and cook since I live at the top of 64 stairs. The last thing I want to do is carry groceries up those stairs. If I do go out to dinner, I go to Roy's in Newport Beach. It's pan-Pacific, mostly seafood. On weeknights, the bar scene is really interesting because it's full of married men trying to get dates. The best pickup line I've gotten is "Do women find power to be an aphrodisiac?"

They don't know your profession.

They think we're bar girls.

After you do a case and go out to dinner, is the first thing you have a drink?

Yes.

One to three?

I try to keep it down to two at the most—usually Cabernet or lemon-drop martinis.

Back to the brown bagging it. If you know you're going to be at the station for a while and you're starving, what do you do?

There have been times I've snuck in snacks. Sometimes I've used food to bribe the kids at juvenile hall.

What's the most successful food item you've ever used to get a piece of information?

Ranch Corn Nuts. There was a girl who did not want to fill out a psychological test for me—567 true/false questions. It was going to take a lot out of her to do this, and she did not want to, but I needed it, so I said I'd give her some Corn Nuts if she did, and she was like, "Okay!"

So all the prodding of others had no effect, but the Ranch Corn Nuts were a shoe-in. I'd confess a few things for Ranch Corn Nuts.

Although once it didn't work. The kid yelled, "I don't want your fucking Corn Nuts!" It's a sign they're putting a wall up. Sometimes nonviolent juveniles come to the office, and we buy them lunch. It's nice. Food is nurturing, and it gets people to open up. We always have Diet Cokes in the fridge and coffee, and it makes people feel more at home. Especially since they're deprived.

So if you were incarcerated, and there was one snack that would make you confess, what would it be?

Probably Cool Ranch Doritos and Diet Coke.

You can never work for the CIA.

Nope.

Zov's Bistro, 17440 E. 17th St., Tustin, (714) 838-8855; Roy's Pacific Rim Cuisine, 453 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-7697.
 
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