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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Today At Lunch ...

Yesterday, I went into work early so I could take a two-hour lunch. Phil ... an old neighbor of mine who bailed me out of some serious scrapes once or twice ... is in my neck of the woods visiting relatives. He's travelling with his two year old son, Gaston. Phil wants to eat at a local chain restaurant ... not my fave by a long shot ... because his son "prefers" the place's kid's menu. Does a two-year-old even understand the concept of a menu? Or of a preference?

Anyway, we meet at the eatery and get seated pretty quick ... it's only just past 11 so we beat the lunch crowd. I'm sitting with my diet soda ... Phil has an iced tea ... and Gaston has already created a small reenactment from Hamburger Hill with saltines and drippings from his sippy cup.

The waitress returns to take our orders. Phil surprises by choosing a salad ... he had always been a poster child for carnivores ... so I take the reins and order a 1/3 pound California burger with avocado and onions. Phil asks our waitress if she can give them a few more minutes while he and Gaston look over their options. Seriously, Gaston is not considering his options ... he has three small toys on his hi-chair tray and is just looking around as servers and patrons pass by.

When our server ... Cyndi with an "I" in the wrong place ... returns, Phil asks for the kid's chicken fingers basket. "But they're not really fingers, are they Gassy," Phil says to his son in that sing-songy voice that parents develop. "No they're not."

No, they are not, indeed, the fingers from a chicken, but that did get me to thinking about how confusing some food selections must sound to children with average to above-average cognitive skills and overall brainpower.

I hope preschool curricula cover these things, but chicken "nuggets" are not made of gold ... but, again, chicken. Fish "sticks" are not comprised of twigs and storm debris. When children run away, they are sometimes recovered but also sometimes endure some tragic events. They are not, however, harvested and turned into tater "tots."

Then there's the whole "hot dog" controversy to explain. How many parents have explained that hot dogs aren't made from canines and that people don't eat dogs? Lots ... but part of their sugary explanation isn't true.

Although frowned upon by many, several cultures still embrace the consumption of dog meat. It all started with ancient Chineses and Aztec civilizations, where certain breeds of canines were raised for meat. Many Aztec artifacts ... especially pottery ... depict dogs being consumed, while Mandarin culture describes dog meat as "mutton of the Earth."

If you're a world traveler, you might have the opportunity to sample rica-rica (a hot roasted dog dish) while attending a wedding in Indonesia, or slurp down a bowl of bosintang (a fragrant soup made from dog) from a vendor stall in Korea. While touring some rural areas of Switzerland, you may be able to resupply your stash of canine sausage and doggie jerky. And in a hotspot like Hanoi, you can probably find a group of men bonding over platters of cho zao sa ot, fried dog cooked with lemon grass and chilis ... it's supposed to have a special kick similar to Viagra.

The list of countries and delicacies goes on and on. Makes explaining "kidney" beans seem like a walk in the park!

POINT OF RANT: Haggis ... actually good. Dog jerky ... not for all the money in my savings account.

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