When Pork (sneak) Attacks!!
Last Friday I went to dinner with a girlfriend, and something happened that I have been thinking about all week. As I often mention, I in no way limit myself to “raw” or “vegetarian” or “vegan” restaurants when dining out. I do not define myself by any of these terms. I take great pride in my skill to eat in any situation. Hey, I have even eaten “my” way in a steak house (they usually have a wide array of vegetable sides). By asking a lot of questions, and modifying my order from what is on the menu I almost always get a meal that I am thrilled with. Almost always.
Last Friday, my girlfriend and I picked Corsino, an Italian restaurant in the West-Village for our date. Italian restaurants are amongst my favorites for dinner because I can almost always get a salad and a simply prepared piece of fish.
While looking over the menu, I noticed they had a grilled octopus dish. Octopus may not be the cleanest seafood you can eat, but it is one of my absolute favorite indulgences. I have a very hard time not ordering it when I see it. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
When I order a dish with a sauce I do not immediately recognize I always ask exactly what is in it. I want to make sure I am not going to unwillingly eat something I don’t want to. My conversation with the waitress at Corsino went something like this:
SJM: I’ll start with the Roasted Beets, Yogurt & Balsamic Pistachios. Is it possible to get it without the yogurt?
Waitress: Sure, no problem,
SJM: What is in the sauce for the Grilled Octopus, Potatoes All’amatriciana?
Waitress: (slightly confused) It’s a tomato based sauce with some peppers and herbs
SJM: Great, I’ll have that as my main course.
While I never make my food choices someone else’s responsibility there were some clear flags here about how/what I eat. I ordered the beets with no yogurt (aka I do not eat dairy) AND I asked what specifically was in the sauce with the octopus. I thought by asking these questions and making a few of my usual modifications I would be safe. Nope.
My beets came first. They were amazing. I love beets. Love.
Then the octopus arrived. It was perfectly grilled and delicious. Yum. I kept eating contently until I noticed an odd taste in my mouth. PORK. I looked down at my fork yup… there was PORK in the tomato sauce. I immediately stopped eating and called the waitress over.
SJM: Excuse me, is there PORK in this sauce?
Waitress: Oh, yeah. I’m sorry did I not mention that?
SJM: Nope. You certainly did not. Nor did the menu.
Waitress: I am so sorry.
SJM: It’s ok. Not your fault. Would you mind just taking it away please?
While I was dying a little bit inside I tried my hardest not to take it out on the waitress. My food choices are not her responsibility. She was very kind and clearly felt horrible.
At moments like this when I am “sneak-attacked” with ingredients I choose not to eat I try my best to remain calm. One bite of PORK does not change who I am. One bite of PORK does not mean I have failed, fallen off the wagon, cheated, slipped etc., etc., etc., I am not on a diet. I have a lifestyle that I chose to live and I do my very best to live it every minute of the day. There has to be wiggle room. Without it, I would be better off locking myself in my kitchen and drinking green juice all day. No thank you.
I got home later that night and Wikipedia’d “amatriciana” I found this:
Turns out not only did I eat PORK CHEEK, but also cheese. Nice. Next time I will be sure to break out the IPhone and Wiki before ordering.
Although this was a slightly traumatizing and upsetting experience it also helped reaffirm some of my beliefs:
-One misstep does not change who I am. That tiny bite of pork should not and does not have any long-term effect on me or my beliefs. I woke up the next day the same person.
-My health is nobody’s responsibility but my own. I cannot depend on anyone else to make sure I am eating in a way I feel comfortable. I have chosen to live a certain lifestyle and it is up to me to maintain that choice.
-A good night is not defined by food. It is defined by spending time with people you love, no matter what you are eating.
While my meal was upsetting, my evening was not ruined. I got to spend some quality time with one of my best girls, and no pork sneak attack could ruin that for me.