I’m not going to sugar coat it, or beat around the bush. I’m just gonna come right out and ask. Who in the hell decided it was a good idea to put calorie counts next to each food and beer item listed in a restaurant menu? Is someone trying to put an end to one of the most frequently purchased Mother’s Day gifts of all time; a dinner out?
While traveling back to the homeland for a family event, we stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings; simply because they have a lot of TVs and we wanted to watch ‘Our Pens’ play game 7 of the hockey playoffs. I knew going in my food choices would be limited but I had a go-to item on the menu that I thought was the best choice available, but I was wrong. I discovered, as a result of this new ‘ruin my dining out’ practice, that The Garden Crasher, which consisted of hummus, carrots, celery, Kalamata olives, and pita triangles, was over 1300 calories. What did you do to my hummus back there in the kitchen to make it so fat? A serving usually has 25 calories and I can eat 5 olives for 35 calories, a medium carrot for 25, and a celery stalk for next to nothing. The only unknown was the pita triangles. Do you fry them, butter them, force lard into them, do all of the above? How do you reach over 1300 calories in a veggie dish? No wonder you call it The Garden Crasher.
As I continued to scan the menu I couldn’t get past those numbers-and I didn’t like it. It was ruining my dining out time. I kept searching for the lowest number, which ended up being a side tossed salad without dressing and I wasn’t having that. “Hey waiter boy. Bring me an old menu,” I thought. “One where I can’t see what I am eating so I can enjoy myself while watching ‘Our Pens.’” No luck. I just sat there, in a tizzy. What was I going to do? I’ve eaten millions of meals over the past 50+ years without knowing the calorie counts and it’s worked out just fine. My grandma didn’t roll out one very long noodle on her cutting board and shape it into the number of calories in her homemade chicken noodle soup; the soup we ate at every Sunday dinner. I never heard my mom gobble once for every calorie in the turkey and stuffing she got up at 5AM to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. And when I make ‘does your meat loaf,’ I don’t follow up with 200 ‘does your bag drags’ just so everyone can add it to their daily total.
After much fretting, I ended up choosing what amounted to a piece of cardboard with some chicken, spinach, and artichokes perched on top of it. I really didn’t want it, but it had the lowest number of calories, after the side salad, a few veggies, and allowed enough calories in the bank for an apple Jim Beam or two. I have my priorities in order.
So, my gift to all the mothers of the world is a word of advice to those who will take her out for Mother’s Day dinner. When picking the restaurant, find one that is a little behind on making menu changes and doesn’t yet have the calories listed next to each food and beer item. Choose a place that lets her eat what she wants rather than forces her to eat cardboard so she can control calories. And most importantly, don’t forget to include Jim-Mom’ll love you for it! Happy Mother’s Day!