Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sides Ways

"Batty shall not live by breadsticks alone!"

This has been a tough year. Things in general have always seemed to have contrived to play themselves out in a bit of a downturn. Too many goodbyes, not enough hellos. Missed opportunities, misunderstandings- add this malaise has even started to affect my food.

Eating out always contains opportunities for disappointment. After all, even the simplest meal is usually composed of many disparate elements, any one of which can sabotage the intended effect. And unless one opts for a high-end dining experience, the tendency for a chef to "play it safe" causes sins of omission, not commission.

I had a calzone at a chain restaurant recently, it was served with "marinara", which was really just tomato sauce. No spices, no adornments, nothing. I have really considered bringing along a small vial of minced garlic and a packet of oregano to just these kinds of places. I like tomatoes as much as anyone, but com'on, let us have some life's variety of which spice is the!

Last night, I ordered a chicken-mushroom-swiss sandwich at another establishment. My choices of a side dish were: kettle chips, french fries, or coleslaw. Coleslaw gets perfunctory treatment at most places, but I like it anyway, even the plainest slaw lightens and complements almost any food. I ordered the coleslaw, but a few minutes later the waiter returned to inform me that they were "out" and would I like fries or chips instead?

Not exactly what you could call an equivalent. I passed, and chose to forgo (after all, I am trying to lose some weight!) any side dish whatsoever. When my sandwich did arrive it came nestled in a bed of french fries. Of course. The one (only?) thing I may have learned about nutrition in all my years is this: NEVER, EVER, EAT FRENCH FRIES! It is the Devil's food, poison and wrong on so many levels. And one should never eat anything with eyes, right?

Every few minutes the waiter came over and asked: "Is there anything else you might want?" I managed to squelch the voice inside me which was shouting: "Coleslaw! Coleslaw! I must have my slaw or I will perish!" I finished my sandwich (you couldn't really call it a meal- it didn't have any sides) and pushed the offending plate of fries to the end of the table. Just then the waiter came back with a bowl of coleslaw! "The chef made up some fresh!" And it was. Crispy cabbage and carrots, with just the right touch of mayo and vinegar. Yes! Yes! Yes! My life has been redeemed!

Now if only I had remembered to bring the garlic!

By Professor Batty


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