Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chain gang

I did a reasonable tour of duty as a server in a few chain restaurants in my day. While I like to be all high and mighty about local businesses, real food, etc. there is a reasonable chance that my aversion to eating in such establishments is not due to a particular ethos or snobbery, but rather a desire to avoid the flashbacks. This evening I dined with friends in my very last corporate restaurant employer (which shall remain nameless, but let's just say I REALLY regret tossing the now-vintage red and white striped shirt...what a Halloween costume that would be!). Not my first choice, of course, but I am willing to go with the flow now and again for the higher calling of socialization.

It's been almost 10 years (what?!?!) since I was a server there, but it suddenly felt like it was yesterday. I could picture the tubs of industrial, processed food in the kitchen, the line cooks blindly following a roadmap to create a dish. The meal was fine, maybe even reasonably tasty if you ignored the rubbery, wilted broccoli. It was the same as it was 10 years ago, and maybe there is some comfort in consistency for folks. Who am I to judge.

What is different, of course, is the calorie counts on the menus. Now I'm not much of a calorie counter and I could produce multiple posts to support that statement, but my heart nearly skipped a beat (ok, two) when I saw the number of dishes that had close to or OVER 2000 calories. For one meal. Worse, for one mediocre, less-than-fresh meal. I am sure that I have put away that many calories in a sitting before (wine + out of this world sirloin + creamed corn brulee + homemade ice cream adds up) but let me tell you, those meals were worth every hip-expanding, artery-clogging bite.

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