Of late my life has been infested with lettuce.
I have nothing against lettuce in its proper place. For instance, a leaf or two atop a ½ pound patty, a slice of cheddar cheese and three healthy pieces of smoked applewood bacon is perfectly acceptable. If you want to shred it and throw it in a flour tortilla with some steak, cheese and salsa I’m fine with that too. I won’t even object to using it to cradle juicy bits of chicken marinated in a garlic, onion, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil bath mixed with pine nuts and water chestnuts (mmmm, lettuce wraps). However, using lettuce as the prominent member of your main course is an abomination.
Normally I give no thought to such things; as a meat and potatoes man the only green want to see is the garnish that snuggles up to my pulled pork sandwich. Tragically, that all changed on my last business trip.
Being away from home I am forced to eat out every meal. Generally this means I can expect to see a slightly larger number on the scales when I return. This becomes more problematic when compounded by the holiday weight I’m already toting around. So I devised a drastic plan to at least slow my rapid ascension towards the 300 lb club; salads for dinner.
Day 1 of my descent into madness
We went to a Mexican restaurant. With a menu full of burritos, enchiladas, tacos, nachos and other meat and cheese based dishes I chose the tortilla chicken salad. Generally I find that I’m a fast eater. My entrée always seems to disappear before I know it leaving me a little disappointed that there’s not more to be had. With this lettuce packed horror, however, there seemed to be no end. I felt as if I’d been eating forever and still the green remained, mocking me. When I finally finished I was surprisingly full. I thought to myself that this might not be so bad. If I only knew what awaited me.
Day 2 the mishap
Being new to salad I learned quickly that all salads are not the same and it is crucial that you read all that is in them. We found ourselves at an uncharacteristically upscale establishment, after a brief perusal of the menu I selected the chopped salad. It seemed harmless enough at first glance. At the outset it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Then it happened. I bit into something that repulsed both my nose and my tongue. It’s what I imagine feet would taste like. As I delved deeper into the bowl I discovered these little balls of fungus were everywhere. I was so hungry though that I kept eating until the last bite. Unlike the previous night this salad did not fill me and now I was left with the taste of toe jam in my mouth. What horrible lengths people must go to in an attempt to hide the lettuce.
Day 3 the lone bright spot on my salad safari
We ended up at a sushi place. Getting a salad was easy as I only mildly dabble in sushi and have no real pull towards it. This time I read the descriptions carefully and once again selected the chopped salad being that I could find nothing that might possibly be foot fungi in the ingredients. The salad arrived with pieces of breaded chicken and bacon sprinkled about (remember you can improve anything with either bacon or chocolate). The dressing was delicious and I hardly minded the dense and diverse lettuce arrangement. In all seriousness I could actually envision myself ordering this on purpose at a future date. I worried that I may have become possessed by some salad loving demon turning me into one of those people who profess to love eating salad. That delusion was dispelled later that night when I became ravenously hungry just a few hours later. Oh the humanity.
Day 3 appendix
I discovered two things that night. A) Salad, no matter how good it tastes, can only momentarily pacify the beast inside of me. And 2) my body was so unaccustomed to such a diet that the beast inside of me began to reject it in, to be delicate, an unpleasant fashion.
Day 4 the finale
Coming to the end of our trip we settled on a nearby and familiar steak house. Surveying the menu I found only three salads. None of them were particularly appealing and my gut told me that none would quell the hunger pangs, so I settle on their house salad. I know that the nutritional and dietary benefits of a salad draped in two kinds of cheese, croutons and ranch dressing are minimal which is why I chased that salad down with a bacon cheeseburger. Finally satisfaction. That salad went down easier and faster than any salad I’d had all week. It wasn’t because of the delicious toppings either but because at the other end of that tunnel was bacon and beef.
Eating that much salad is just not right. Sure I finished the week down a pound instead of up two or three but the price I paid was my soul.
I have great respect for people who diligently watch what they eat and force themselves to eat lettuce. A short time ago I witnessed my sister-in-law, who keeps herself in excellent shape, eating what can only be described as a small animal habitat. It was lush with dark green leaves and what appeared to be, and I pray was not, dirt. She ate it without complaining as I teased her for the appearance of her meal. To her credit she did not claim to love it but was eating it because it was good for her.
I do not debate that lettuce is good for the body. My contention is that the inclination to consume it is not natural nor is it satisfying. Cases in point, my 3 year old was eating a hot dog one night and also on his plate were a couple of baby carrots and some lettuce. He ate the hot dog and carrots without a word. He then informed us that he was done and we instructed him to eat his lettuce. He protested, “That’s Gary food.” Gary is our African desert tortoise who eats nothing but lettuce. Out of the mouths of babes my friends, out of the mouths of babes. You see lettuce is not food, lettuce is what food eats.
Case No.2, my wife (who also keeps herself in fine shape) made a nice looking and fine tasting chicken salad for dinner a few days after I returned home. Later that night this kind, gentle, beautiful, delicate creature apologized for being grumpy. I replied that I was unaware that she was grumpy. She confessed that the salad did not hit the spot and she’d felt ornery the rest of the evening. See there, salad leaves even the nicest person in the world feeling unfulfilled and grouchy. Lettuce just makes you angry.
To maintain a certain body type you’ll have to subsist on this green crunchy vegetation and that’s your choice. But all efforts to convince me that you like it are futile. It’s a lie. Maybe who’ve told yourself that lie enough that you believe it but it’s a lie nonetheless. Don’t believe me? Okay, show of hands, you’ve got one meal left to eat before passing on; who’s picking a salad? That’s what I thought.
So choke it down if you must, just don’t tell me “it’s good”.