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July 20, 2005

Restaurants didn't have vegetables in the kitchen

The first time I came across this bizarre culinary catastrophe was in a greasy spoon hotel restaurant a few years ago. I thought I would be safe ordering a veggie omelet and pancakes. I was wrong. "We don't have a veggie omelet", says the server. "OK, just throw some green peppers and broccoli in with the eggs and make one up", I said. "We don't have green peppers or broccoli". I was stunned. "OK just put some tomato slices in there and give me a couple of carrots on the side", they have to have tomatoes and carrots, right?

"The only vegetables we have are onions and potatoes", says the server with a distinct, I am getting really annoyed with you weirdo's tone. What planet was I on? Is this place for real? "So let me get this straight.. you serve no meals whatsoever with vegetables? You have no salads?" - The server looked at me as though I had a foot growing out of my ear. Clearly no one in this place had any concept of what a balanced meal is and why a person might be interested in eating one.

This got me to thinking - is there really enough of our population that eats so terribly unhealthy that a restaurant that has no vegetables other than onions and potatoes could sustain itself? Yes. Now that is downright scary.

More recently this happened again in a pasta/ pizza joint. I asked to have extra veggies in my pasta, specifically green peppers. "We don't have any green peppers". It was happening again, no peppers, broccoli, or carrots in the restaurant. They weren't temporarily out of stock, they never have these items. It was like I just experienced a cheesy sci-fi effect where the screen is filled with a black and white rotating spiral image and I was zapped into bizzaro world. My alien server who obviously has never heard of healthy eating was clearly being pushed to the limit of her anemic brain stem. She even seemed offended that I would ask for vegetables.

It gets worse. I asked if the cheese on the pasta was processed. She answered, "I don't know", then just stood there in silence. "OK, maybe you could ask the chef if the cheese is processed or real?" The server rolled her malnourished eyes and stomped off to the kitchen only to return with this astute answer, "It's the same cheese we put on the pizza".

"That doesn't tell me if the cheese is processed, I would like to know if you have processed cheese or real cheese". Obviously experiencing a cerebral hemorrhage the server repeated, "It's the same cheese we put on the pizza". You know, you hear about these people but it's quite surreal when you actually encounter one.

Since a salad was included with our meals I thought I'd get some veggies there and stopped pursuing what clearly needed to be a monosyllable conversation with our server.

Our salads arrive. I am salivating with thoughts of peppers, carrots, field greens, maybe some almonds.. Head lettuce and one quarter slice of tomato placed decoratively on top. My salad was suffering from performance anxiety.

How could this place exist? How could any self respecting restaurateur sign off on this stuff?

A few weeks later the same thing occurred again in another pasta/ pizza place.
A mere pittance of vegetables to choose from and I was being treated like I drove a Honda to a Chevy convention just for asking for veggies in my meal.

I am not actually shocked that restaurants like this exist; my problem is I expect too much. I expect that when I go to a restaurant that I should be able to order healthy food that provides my nutritional needs as well as tasting great. In my opinion I don't see the point opening your doors if you can't do that as a restaurant. I mean, where does your head need to be at in order to willfully sell knowingly unhealthy food to a paying customer? That's easy; you supply a product that you know people will buy. Until our population starts demanding higher standards for their own health and well being, there will always be restaurants selling nutrient deprived slop.

How did I get stuck in these restaurants if I am so adamant about healthy eating? Like I said I expect too much. I simply assume that a restaurant will have a variety of vegetables in stock. These were also times when I was pretty darn hungry and far from the restaurants I usually eat at.

Thankfully there are restaurants that have healthy menu items and indeed even some restaurants where the entire menu is healthy.

If you demand healthy eating in a restaurant your best bet is to keep going back to the ones you find that meet your needs as you are more likely to slip into nutrition bizzaro world by trying new diggs.


2005 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness www.rhinofitness.ca



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