Hold the Lettuce
It was fun while it lasted.
You remember when you stopped picking up hitchhikers? It was likely in the 80s, right? For me, as late as 1985, I was still feeling that tinge of guilt driving past one (making the "turn" sign with my finger to signal I was, er, turning shortly, anyway).
Hell, I went through some periodic stretches between 1974-1980 when hitching was my chief means for getting around. But by 1992 or so, only a complete freaking idiot would hitchhike or stop for a hitchhiker. A bunch of "bad news" happened - hitchhikers hurting drivers and vice versa - and that was the end of that. Nobody of sound mind hitchhikes anymore - it's just the way it is.
Nowadays, seeing a hitchhiker along the road is more exotic than seeing a family of deer or a caravan of gypsies.
My salad days also began in the carefree 70s: after I'd outgrown my puerile dislike of vegetables enough to appreciate the newfangled "salad bar," which coincided with my early teen years and subsequent appreciation of cheap food. The first one I recall was the Village Inn, a pizza place in Alexandria. For a ridiculously low price you could load up a plate with vegetables, dressing, and bacon bits, and sometimes even pizza slices. Many a day's festivities, or late night sessions, ended up at the salad bar, chowing down.
Needless to say, fast-forwarding 30 years, a lot of lettuce has gone under the bridge. I not only learned to appreciate my veggies, but to treat the salad as de rigeur. Whether in dive diners or places where a meal costs as much as three college credits, my typical agenda has been a caesar salad and steak, medium rare. On the home front, the bag o' salad phenomenon which made life so immeasurably more convenient the past five years, has been the centerpiece of the family's vegetable intake.
We were at Glory Days in Sterling tonight. The waiter brought our drinks and asked "Are you ready to order?" The wife ordered chili, I ordered quesadillas, and she said, "Do you want to split a salad?" I said, "I don't think we should EVER have salad again." She said, "Oh. Yeah."
And that was that. This is how cultures change.
Following a plethora of bad prepared-fresh-food news over the past year, and then bad stories about hundreds of people getting sick from eating at Olive Garden, Taco Bell, and "Taco John's" the past two weeks, I'm fairly certain my fresh-veggie-trusting days are over. There are obviously structural problems with the mass-production model for fresh produce.
In the aforementioned cases e-coli has been named as a suspected cause of the problems.
"E-coli" means someone, somewhere along the line, is violating the wall of separation that should exist between excrement and human rations. Obviously, that breach is now happening on a large scale. Once that divide has been bridged, there is really no going back in the trust department. Is it the workers? Is it the equipment? We don't care. We're going to drive right on past without a hint of apology for not stopping. Goodbye.
I don't want commercially produced fresh vegetables served raw. I want vegetables cooked, or brined and salted, or otherwise heavily infused with chemicals - or I want them home-grown. Rather than buy a Big Mac or Burrito Whatever on a road trip, I will grab eight or ten Slim Jims from the gas station. When the waiter asks which dressing I prefer with my salad, I will say, "None please, but I do want that caesar salad boiled."
Closer to home, we are going to have a garden next year, but in the meantime we have also decided to get much more focused on having steamed green vegetables with our meals in place of salads. Steamed cabbage, broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. provide all you need healthwise. Anything we eat "fresh" will be vetted - and that means goodbye to the bagged lettuce.
Hey, it seemed too good to be true, did it not? Well, it was.
If you don't have a trusted local source for fresh vegetables, here's how you use commercially produced vegetables: Get yourself a simple steamer set up, which is a metal or bamboo grate that you put vegetables in, and then put in a large sauce pan. Put an inch of water in the pan and boil the whole deal, covered, for 8 minutes. That's your vegetables.
When you go out to eat, forego the salad, and order a nice, cooked appetizer, and have steamed vegetables with your meal. "Salads" should be viewed as skeptically as you would view sushi. It's just the way it is.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Hold the Lettuce.
TrackBack URL for this entry: