Columnist gets health food forgetanata
Have you noticed lately that health food restaurants are becoming more and more extreme in the foods they offer? My wife and I visited a new one recently in the Fort Myers area and we walked out hungering for ham and eggs. Voluntarily raising my cholesterol level in quantum leaps seemed like a small price to pay after our experience.
The moment we walked in we realized we had made a mistake. The maitre d’ stood at six foot five and if he weighed a 100 pounds, then I was Tom Thumb. He looked like he’d been on a hunger strike for about a year.
The restaurant had unusual artwork. There were posters on the walls that pulled no punches. One said “Ban the Egg. More people die from eating eggs than from nuclear annihilation.” A cheery thought I noted.
Another poster read “Coffee kills.” A neat alliteration. I knew what I wouldn’t be served at the conclusion of the evening’s meal.
Other posters were also as subtle as being hit over the head with a slab of prime rib – another dish I didn’t expect to see on the menu. Oh, well. My wife and I agreed that when in Rome, eat what they do.
But we hardly expected to be forced to make our selection on the basis of intimidation.
When we were seated, a waiter appeared who weighed even less than the maitre d’. He left us some menus and promised to return shortly with a recitation of the evening’s specials.
“I thought dining out is supposed to be an enjoyable experience,” I said to my wife. “I feel like we’re in a prisoner of war camp.”
“Don’t worry,” my wife reassured me. “If we try to escape, I don’t think anyone here has the strength to stop us.”
I only prayed that we would have the strength to leave voluntarily after sampling some of their health food dishes. Or that there was nothing in the food to cause me to lose a hundred pounds overnight and become one of them.
My musings were interrupted with the return of the waiter.
“Is this your first time here? It is? Then let me tell you about our culinary philosophy before I tell you about the evening’s specials.
Our chef, Wilmo, is a recovered alcoholic and drug addict. Five years ago he had a triple bypass, followed by a quadruple bypass. He’s had so many bypasses that no one knows where the original roads led to.”
He began to laugh uproariously. My wife and I tittered nervously and images of Big Macs began to flash through my mind.
He continued. “After the bypasses, Wilmo suffered a stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, a peptic ulcer, the heartbreak of psoriasis, and advanced acne.
It was while idly picking at a pimple one day that Wilmo was struck by the thought that his eating habits were all wrong.”
“What was he eating, glue?” my wife muttered under her breath.
“Pardon?” asked the waiter.
“I said, how true, how true.”
“Anyway,” the waiter continued, “from that day on Wilmo’s life changed.
He devoted himself to the quest for healthy foods and he opened this restaurant to share the knowledge he acquired.”
“We can see that Wilmo is a very humane person,” I said.
“And now for tonight’s specials. Our appetizers include cold giraffe breast tossed with strained ostrich juice; monkey quiche grillard; pigeon porridge; and spider web on the half shell. All of these delicacies have been selected on the basis of nutritional value and, of course, appeal to your taste buds.”
“Guess what,” I taunted my wife, “I’m going to know an old lady who swallowed a spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.”
My wife’s stare was enough to freeze the entire kitchen had the waiter not deflected the ray with a continuation of the specialties of the house.
“For Wilmo’s entrees we are pleased to offer balsa bark flamb, whale newberg, lard oregenato, roast baby penguin – and our true specialty of the house, popcorn primavera.”
There was a long pause as my wife and I fought back our tears.
“Would you like a few moments to ponder your decision?”
“Yes,” my wife said. “We’ll ponder. We’ll ponder.”
We thumbed through the menu. It didn’t get any better. It appeared that Wilmo was hallucinating on LSD. Baked Hawaiian grass, stuffed mother of wicker, molten lava imported from Italy. Somehow the selection had the opposite effect than was intended. Our health was deteriorating rapidly.
My wife and I quickly reached an understanding on what we had to do.
When the waiter returned ready to take our order, we mumbled something about having to catch a plane to Baghdad to rejoin our comrades in the American Embassy. We then stumbled into every fast food restaurant we could find and systematically devoured pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, beer and cheese cake until our stomachs felt healthy again.