Sunday, February 05, 2006


i ate fucking squid tonight.

some friends drove into town for the evening, and my wife and i went out to dinner with them at evergreen taiwanese restaurant. i think i might have talked about this place before, but it's one of my favorite kind of hole-in-the-wall vegan comfort food places, known for its wide array of fake meat. their menu even has this nice thing about how if you're vegan, most dishes (except those with a circled "M" next to them) can be made vegan using their mock meats, and advising vegans to ask the server whether the fake meat option is vegan or not, as selection is prone to change.

you can probably guess where this is going, as i've already blown the ending. i ordered some mock shrimp satay, and was brought something that didn't really look to me like shrimp, something i attributed to it being an imposter. perhaps i should have been concerned when i heard the server say squid, especially after he had tried to bring another dish to our table that none of us had ordered, but i figured he had just misspoken; squid, shrimp - it's an easy mistake to make.

having never eaten squid before (a calculated move on my part, i assure you), i didn't recognize it as such. i even commented on how it didn't taste like seafood, or that they hadn't done a very good job getting the spices right. after i'd eaten about a quarter of it, the server came by and informed me that he had brought the wrong plate and that he was sorry. i was holding on to the hope that perhaps someone else had ordered mock squid, but went to the men's room to empty my mouth of the bite it was housing, and when i came back my wife informed me that it was, in fact, the real deal.

it's difficult to explain how traumatizing this was. our friends are not vegan, and while they occasionally flirt with vegetarianism, i'm not sure where they're at on this front, either. because of this, i found myself wondering if they thought i was over-reacting. honestly, i didn't feel like i knew how to react. i've been avoiding animal-eating for years and years now; the idea that my teeth were chewing on flesh tonight makes me insanely uncomfortable. there is also the fear that i will be visited by the diarrheas later tonight.

the waiter is a very nice man, and i think he and his wife run the place. he seemed to be genuinely sorry, and didn't make me pay for my food, which was a relief, because if he had i would have had to enter into a conflict, and i just really didn't have the gumption at that point. our friends say they've seen him flustered many times before, bringing people the wrong thing and whatnot.

i'm absent-minded myself, but at the same time, you're running a fucking restaurant, and people are paying you to get that shit right, so it seems to me that it's kind of important to make sure you do.

case in point: as i was sitting there staring vacantly at the table, i overheard some obnoxious customer asking "who wrote the menu?" the waiter explained that a friend had done it. i didn' think much of it at the time, but later i was waiting for everyone outside the bathrooms, and i was looking in a freezer case at some of their take-home fake meats that they have available for purchase. many of them have whey listed in their ingredients, and they appear to be the same ones that are used in the restaurant.

seems like their friend knew more about vegan culture than they did, and was a bit more savvy with the english language (this isn't a dig - my foreign language skills are abysmal), and so when i ask the waiter everytime i go there if the fake meats are vegan, he says yes, thinking they are. unfortunately, it's probably never occurred to him that whey is an animal product, or maybe even that vegans don't eat animal products, and so as far as he's concerned it's all good.

but it isn't all good, friends, and so i'm torn. evergreen is a great place, a small family business, and sometimes people make mistakes, but some mistakes that might seem kind of small to one person might seem rather huge to another, even if that person can understand how the mistake was made.

i don't really have any bad feelings about the place, except that they need to get their orders sorted out, but i'm considering writing a letter sort of outlining the above in a more professional manner and without saying "fuck" so much. maybe i'll say "flip" or "frick" instead. i think they need to know about the fake meat situation, though, because i'm not sure many people do.


Blogger veganerd said...

the people who designed the menu have been vegan for more than a decade. and also happen to be friends with the owners. the wife of the menu writer also happens to be from taiwan and speaks fluent taiwaneese. so the language barriers that may exist between the servers and the english written arent much of an issue. also some of the fake meats in the freezer are indeed not vegan but they do know whats up with us crazy vegans and will tell you if the fake meats they have in the kitchen have egg whites or whey in them.

i also ate there this weekend. didnt have any problems.


10:44 AM  

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