Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Diner

I have a healthful-eating manual from somewhere in my past life. It’s packed with great information and recipes. Of course, I say this on faith, since I’ve never actually read it, but I’m sure it’s good stuff. However, sorting through my cookbooks the other day, I found it and opened it randomly to a chapter entitled “Dining Out.” As I read the author’s suggestions, an image began to take form in my head: The Patron from Healthy Hell.

Based on her advice, here is the scene that unfolds, striking a chill into my former-waitress's heart:

"Good afternoon. My name is Lisa and I’ll be your server today. What can I get you?”

“Yes, um, do you use sulfites?”

“Excuse me?”

“On your salad bar. Do you use sulfites to preserve the freshness of your salad greens?”

“I don’t know, probably we do...”

“Because sulfites were banned ten years ago by the FDA, but I know public places don’t always adhere to rules like that.”

“We adhere to all the health regulations. I’m sure there’s no sulfur on the salad bar.”


“Right. So would you like to order the salad bar?”

“Possibly, but I was looking at the salads here on the menu. The tuna salad – is that water-packed tuna?”

“Ummm... yes. It comes in water.”

“Or this taco salad looks good, too.”

“The taco salad is excellent.”

“Great, I think I’ll have that. With chicken instead of red meat, also less meat and more of the garden ingredients, and a reduced supply of chips.”

“Right. Would you like refried beans with that?”

“Oh. Hm. Are they high in fat and too salty?”

“They’re... well, I guess it depends on your taste.”

“Well, then, could I have a sample?”

“Yes, of course. If that’s all, I’ll bring your food to you shortly.”

“Thank you.”

** A few minutes later. **

“Ma’am, I’m very sorry, but we can’t substitute chicken on the taco salad.”

“You can’t? Why not? Never mind, let me see what else there is.”

“May I recommend the spaghetti? You can order the sauce without meat.”

“Oh, I save pasta dishes for home, where I can make whole-grain pasta. I’ll take this chicken sandwich. Is it broiled or baked?”

“Broiled, I believe. What kind of bread?”

“Hm. This whole-wheat bread... is it entirely whole-wheat?”

“I don’t know. It looks like it.”

“Yes, well, I doubt it is. I’ll take the sourdough. It’s easier to digest.”

“Thank you for that information. Would you like a side dish? The choices are rice pilaf, baked potato, or mashed potatoes.”

“I assume the rice pilaf uses white rice?”


“And the mashed potatoes doubtless are from a box. Definitely the baked potato.”

“I hesitate to ask, but would you like butter and sour cream on that?”

“No butter! But if you could mix a little sour cream with some cottage cheese or plain yogurt, that would be great. Oh, I see that you have soups.”

“I was afraid you’d see that.”

“This chicken soup looks good. But is the broth made with much fat?”

“I don’t know, I don’t make the food.”

“I’d like a sample, please. And make it ‘not salty.’ I don’t suppose they’re homemade soups?”

“I don’t suppose.”

“Too bad, they’re always much better.”

“Yes, it makes you wonder why some people even bother to eat at restaurants, doesn’t it? I’ll be back shortly with your food.”

-- SJ


Queen of Carrots said...

(Sigh) I can almost see myself doing this. Except rather than pestering the poor waitress, I usually just make my best guess and keep silent. On the other hand, it's a consoling factor when one hasn't the money to eat out, that it would also be unhealthful to do so.

the Joneses said...

That's okay. If you repent of your sins, the Great Chef in the Sky will forgive you. Not sure about waitresses at chain restaurants, though.

I figure that if I'm going to eat out, I might as well reconcile myself to less-healthful food, and enjoy it. And of course we eat out ALL THE TIME in this stage of life... -- SJ