August 10, 2006

The concept is icky

Our trial settled today in the middle of the plaintiff's direct case. The settlement got put on the record, the parties were voir-dired, the case was closed, and we all went to lunch.

At Appleby's.

I approached the front door with some trepidation, having never been inside one of these places before. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to food. I like really fine restaurants or real dives or diners. I don't like places that try to re-create some odd fascimile of a dive bar. Either be a dive bar or don't. Also, I am sceptical of chains, of places where the food is created in some corporate development office, test marketed in Toledo (pace, Toledo, nothing meant by it), and then re-assembled in White Plains. Besides, I wonder how these places contribute to the growing obesity / pre-diabetes problem we're having.

Well, now that I've eaten there, I'd say my snobism is confirmed and I think these places contribute a lot to obesity.

One, the snob thing. I ordered for lunch the grilled salmon caesar salad, one of the healthiest choices I could locate. Fine. Overly dressed, but fine. I was not too surprised to learn that extra anchovies would not be made available to me. I was shocked to learn that the restaurant did not have a pepper mill so that a little fresh ground pepper could liven up the salad. So, they ain't really cooking for someone like me. And I could tell, based on the surprised look on our waitress's face, that people don't really ask for fresh pepper very often.

Two, the obesity thing. I drank diet coke with my repast. My companions, the same. As they finished the overly large drinks, the empties were immediately whisked away to be replaced by new overly large drinks. If my companions were drinking real coke or some other full sugar soda, they would have consumed enough empty calories to account for their entire day's quota. They also would have made the sugar companies wicked happy. If this is how middle America is drinking when they eat at this place, the obesity thing is just gonna keep getting worse and worse.

I think I could do without a return trip. And for the record, my soda was the only one at the table not in need of a refill. I could barely manage the giganto cup they served me the first time.

Posted by Random Penseur at August 10, 2006 07:12 PM | TrackBack

That obesity thing is scary, and alongside it diabetes. I've seen ads on tv I see talking about how 1 in 5 people has or will have diabetes, and really, how do you get diabetes? Usually through incorrect diet, constant intake of high sugar and other nasty foods. The food chains are feeding the diabetes machine: bigger portions, bigger drinks, unending pop, etc.

If the environment isn't gonna get us, we will get ourselves in the end. "I'm too tired to make supper/lunch/breakfest" is fine but when we're doing it 5 days a week? That's a problem.

Posted by: Oorgo at August 11, 2006 11:18 AM

I'm gonna take umbrage at the "Middle America" business. We do have decent restaurants out here in the hinterlands, so we're not all reduced to eating at Appleby's or TGIFridays. ;)

That said, I agree with your portion size complaints. My theory on it is this: we've shifted from an agrarian/laborer society to one where people sit in chairs all day long, but nowhere along the way did people learn that they should eat less as a result. Your food habits are learned at an early age, and they're very hard to ditch. You should go and eat at my Mother in law's house. Oy. Despite loud protests from everyone in the family, she still thinks everyone needs to eat as if they've had a long day scything wheat behind them. There's so much food it's disgusting. She wouldn't know how to put a salad together if a head of lettuce came up and bit her on the bum. All the vegetables are canned (and it's ALWAYS corn)so there's not a lot of nutrition going on there. Then there's the main course, which is either chicken or hamburger based. Unless it's swiss steak night (shudder) and then flank steak (woo!) has been purchased. And there's the mashed potatoes. At every dinner there's homemade mashed potatoes. With a big puddle of melted margarine in the middle and a dash of paprika for color. And then, just for healthiness' sake, there's some sort of cut up fruit and cottage cheese. It's just WAY too much food, but you can't really blame her too much because that's how she and the father-in-law ate when they were growing up. It's how she was taught to cook. And when they had a farm, well, it made sense to eat like that because of the labor involved with keeping a five hundred acre property up.

Ironically enough, it's turning out to be a big problem. My grandmother-in-law (the MIL's mother)has both Alzheimers and Parkinsons---the double whammy. Her daily state of well-being is very much dependent upon proper nutrition (as in it's the difference between her getting lost in her own hallway or not)and she fed Grandpa like this for years, hence this is what his palate prefers. Grandma, on the other hand, has never been fond of chicken fried steak and the like, but cooked it for him. Now that he's doing the cooking, this is what he makes---and she won't eat it. He's stubborn enough to insist that she not waste perfectly good food and he refuses to cook her anything else. It's sad, I know, but no amount of cajoling Grandpa into cooking something different for Grandma is going to work. He just recovered from his own bout with colon cancer and food finally tastes good to him again. Cross your fingers and hope that they get into assisted living sooner rather than later!

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