When Good Salads Go Bad

Okay, so picture this. My daughter and I were at our favorite pizza joint in the world.  I’m not going to mention names (*cough cough* Ledo’s).  Our mouths were watering for the best pizza and bread sticks in the world.  Not that there is ever really a BAD pizza, is there?  Even a bad pizza still beats a celery stick any day of the week, but I digress.

My daughter…my 18-year-old daughter… had decided to add a Caesar Salad to her order.

Before I go any further in my traumatizing Caesar Salad tale, let me explain.

This girl loves Caesar Salad.  She has had every Caesar Salad in every restaurant in the state.  She eats Caesar Salad with the same gusto that I have when I eat hot fudge sundaes. So, you can imagine her love for Caesar Salad. She has downloaded every recipe for every dressing she sees on Facebook.  She was given a restraining order from the Kellogg Company because of her suggestion for Frosted Caesar Salads, part of a balanced breakfast.  Her first child will be named Caesar, and rumor has it, she is trying to find a man with the last name Salad.   When she went to donate blood, she was told by the Red Cross that her blood was 90% Caesar dressing and she could not donate. She was crushed. My child has never met a crouton she didn’t like, although she does have her favorites on the salad itself. She definitely knows what is acceptable and not acceptable in the world of salads.  She has a tattoo that proudly proclaims, “I will let no lettuce remain behind.” Okay, so I made that last one up. But she does WANT the tattoo.

 In short, my daughter is a Caesar Salad connoisseur.

The waitress brought the salad and set it in front of her.  My daughter paid proper homage to the gods of salads, and then picked up her plastic cup of dressing.  Eyes full of anticipation, she poured the dressing.  Or, rather, TRIED to pour the dressing.  The dressing was so thick it stuck to the container.  She used an ice pick to chip it out.  Once it was sitting in a congealed glob of goo on top of the salad, she gamely picked up her fork and tried it.  To the horror of every Caesar Salad addict in the world, this dressing wasn’t even chilled.  Still, my daughter would not…could not…be deterred.  “There are no bad salads,” she proclaimed, “they are just misunderstood.”  I watched in horror as she lifted the play dough covered crouton to her lips.  She is the bravest girl I have ever known.

This girl put her fork down delicately, and to my utter amazement pushed the bowl aside.  She wasn’t sure what was in the silly-putty-like dressing, but she suspected it could have been expired yak milk and Gorilla Glue.  The meal continued, and at the end of the meal, the waitress brought out boxes for the leftover pizza.  She had a separate box for the salad, which by now had crawled out of the bowl and was making its way slowly towards me.   I firmly but gently tell the waitress that the salad scared me, as it was then staring at me menacingly.

My daughter, being a nicer person than me, didn’t want to complaint. I had no such issue because, well, I’m me. “That salad was a little off, and I suspect it is plotting our murder,” I told the waitress.  She apologized, and skipped merrily off to get our check.  When she returned, I saw that she was charging us for the uneaten blob that had by now swallowed the salt shaker.  Not one to make a huge fuss, and having already made the salad’s nefarious agenda to take over the restaurant known, I whipped out my credit card and paid for our meal.

Suddenly, we were accosted by a sweet looking fatherly type of gentleman.  He cornered my shy daughter in the booth and demanded – demanded – to know what was wrong with the salad.  So much for fatherly.

My sweet daughter had been so bitterly disappointed by her salad experience that she stood up for herself, despite being a non-confrontational type.  She was speaking up for salads everywhere as she informed him,   “The dressing tasted off.  I think it may have spoiled.  I didn’t trust it enough to eat it.”

The man harrumphed like Ebeneezer Scrooge.  If he’d have had a well-oiled handlebar mustache, he might have started twirling the ends of it.  “Young lady, have you ever had OUR Caesar Salad? Have you ever even HAD any Caesar Salad before?  It’s supposed to taste like that.  It should have a bite to it. I think you just don’t understand the type of dressing it is…”  His tone was condescending and accusatory at the same time, a nun scolding a student for texting in class.  “In fact,” he continued, “I had a bite of the dressing in the back, and it tasted just fine to me.”  At this point, it’s not entirely clear if he ate my daughter’s salad or had some from the kitchen, but that’s not important now.  His performance was beginning to draw a crowd as he continued treating my daughter like a puppy who chewed a shoe.  “Do you even know what a Caesar Salad should taste like?” he asked disdainfully.  This man could have been a manager, or the owner, or some homeless fellow who wandered in off the street for all we knew at that point.  He definitely took things to a whole different level.  He was dismissing her not only as both a customer, but as a thinking adult with common sense.

Having gotten past my initial shock at his take on this situation, I stepped in and told him that my daughter was very much aware of what a Caesar Salad should taste like and theirs was bordering on cruelty to customers. (I may have been a little nicer than that, but not much.)

We walked out with a coupon for a free pizza, but the salad was still charged on the bill.  I wasn’t even questioning the charge, had no plans to do so, so I am unclear why this man took this all so personally.  Perhaps this was a long lost (with good reason) family recipe?  All he needed to do was simply say, “I’m sorry you didn’t care for the salad.”  Instead, he made a huge fuss and belittled my daughter.

On the way home my daughter and I discussed this, and mutually decided that we would rather drive the extra twenty miles to the Ledo’s in the next town over, rather than go back in that store because of the manager’s attitude.  We couldn’t help but wonder if he would have treated her the same way if she was a male.  Any girl who has wandered into Home Depot looking for caulk knows the look, the attitude, and the condescending tone I am talking about.  This man definitely seemed to be “mansplaining.” It was uncalled for and, truth be told, more than a little insulting. I sincerely hope he is just a jerk with everyone, and not just the “little ladies” that come into his store.

Enjoy your arrogance, sir, and enjoy it alone.  Here are two less “little ladies” that will be putting money in your pocket.

Questionable Indulgence

Why yes, yes I am eating Twinkies ice-cream. Don’t roll your eyes at me. It’s not nearly as awful as you might think — it actually does taste like Twinkies. Which is good…if you like Twinkies.

Annnd in another few minutes, it’ll be Wednesday. Not as good as Friday, but definitely better than Monday.

 

Wretched Excess

I saw a late-night TV commercial last night for one of those “all you can eat” buffets. Five hundred entrees, bottomless soup and salad bar, eighty different types of dessert, and four cardiac defibrillation stations. Ecstatic children piling chicken tenders on top of their banana splits. Dad eating enough fried shrimp to threaten the Louisiana shrimp industry. Mom was the only one demonstrating any dietary discretion. She was enjoying a deep-fried kale salad to go with her 10-cheese 7 layer lasagna. Fearing that I would soon witness this family of four exploding all over the restaurant like poor Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, I turned the station and lo and behold, I ended up on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”  I guess I was hungry. Next time, I’ll just head to the fridge earlier for my snack instead of living vicariously through the TV.

This food frenzy got me to thinking though. We Americans consume God awful amounts of food. Every fast food chain suggests you “super-size your order. Casual chain restaurants now tout their “never ending appetizers.” Even Starbucks loves you more as a customer when you pass over the former size-champion Venti and go for the new 31 oz Trenta to go along with that cake pop on a stick (or two) you just have to grab for breakfast. Nothing can get you going in the morning like downing a quart of coffee…literally.  Hmmm.  Just how much food do we consume in a year?

I decided to do some research on this. Cause you know, it’s late at night and sleep is for babies. What started as an innocent inquiry into what we eat every year, turned into a dark journey into terror. Believe it or not, in one year you will have likely eaten one ton of food! Yes, the FDA figures it out to be an average of 1,996.3 pounds. But hey, if you’re a perfectionist like me, just buy those extra two Trenta caramel lattes (with whipped cream!) at your corner Starbucks every week and you’ll get to that perfectly rounded 2,000-pound mark, easy peasy.

I mean, really? A ton of food in a year? That’s more weight than a Mitsubishi Mirage. Thank God for efficient digestive systems!  It got even more terrifying when I checked to see how the weight was split up. I don’t know what possessed me to go looking, but go looking I did.

People apparently love their dairy. As a society, we keep the dairy industry afloat. Each of us, on average – because of course some people don’t eat or drink dairy at all, consumes 781.5 pounds of milk, yogurt, and other dairy products a year. Add in another 31.4 pounds if you eat cheese.

We eat 32.7 pounds of eggs.  That works out to 253 eggs apiece for the math impaired (and just so you know, I used a calculator for that…cause you know, technology).

What about meats? Apparently, each person will go through about 62.4 pounds of red meat, 46.5 pounds of pork, 60.4 pounds of chicken, and 23.2 pounds of turkey in their yearly feasting. I bet most of that turkey consumption is on Thanksgiving weekend alone.

I couldn’t find stats on other types of meat and it’s just as well. Just knowing the above made me sick enough.

As for the veggie side of things, we eat 415.4 pounds of vegetables every year to go with that massive portion of meat already on our plates.  Seriously though, we need these veggies to counter the over 85 pounds of butter and oil we eat per year. Ugh.

If you have a three-year-old toddler (if you don’t then, borrow one), pick him or her up.  Pretty hefty, right?  Now put the toddler down and close your eyes. Now open your eyes and pretend that the cute toddler has turned into a pile of delicious French Fries. Okay, don’t roll your eyes at me…this is just a visualization technique. Good grief.  Anyway, do you see that toddler size pile of fries?  Now know this, each year the average American will consume 31.1 pounds of fries…the average weight of a three-year-old.

It gets worse.  Cause we haven’t even discussed snacks. And who doesn’t love snacks? You’re looking at 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream (which I could do in one week if my wallet and my doctor would let me), 53 gallons of soda (I think I’m above average on this one…not exactly the goal my mother was shooting for when she claimed I had potential), and a terrifying 3 pounds of salt. Three. Pounds. Of. Salt. No wonder blood pressure is on the rise nationwide.

So, yeah. While I am more enlightened and more knowledgeable, which is never a bad thing, my late-night journey into the realm of our society’s consumption levels left me a little worse for wear. I almost couldn’t finish my bag of chips and pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel-Sutra.

False Advertising

It’s my favorite time of year…okay, one of my favorite times of year. Right up there with Halloween, Christmas, and the two-days after Valentine’s Day 75% off all candy sale day. What is the highly celebrated season do you ask? Is it my birthday? No. Is it the start of pumpkin spice everything season? No, not quite. Okay, I’ll tell you — it’s time for our county fair. Now, I know, I know, a bit of a let down you might say, but hold on.  There are a lot of reasons to like the county fair, even one as small as ours. There are animals. There is cotton candy. There are rides. There is funnel cake. There are games. There’s cotton candy. There is great music usually. There’s funnel cake.

One of the main reasons I make an appearance at our county fair is because our local Girl Scouts extraordinaire have a booth with all sorts of wildly delicious confections available for a nominal fee. You see, I always forget when the ever elusive Girl Scout cookie time is and therefore I often miss the tables at the local grocery store. So the county fair is my chance to catch up on all the calories I missed out on earlier in the year.

However, perhaps the powers that be in the cookie kingdom should rethink my favorite cookie’s name. Re-brand it with something more accurate maybe. Somehow, I feel a little let down.