I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years. I wish I could offer some magnanimous reason for not eating meat but I’m afraid it boils down to being so grossed out by the raw chicken I worked with during my 2 year stint at Bolton Dining Hall (UGA) that I haven’t been able to eat anything processed in a packing plant ever since.
I was a Student Manager for the dinner shift and one of my many roles was to check-in the 20,000+ chicken breasts that arrived each week. About 3 chickens into the first shipment I made the decision to stop eating food that had been touched by human hands…the chicken wasn’t the problem, it was all the filth and human grim that came with the birds. Of course the cleanliness of the dorm kitchen kaboshed that plan so I switched my conviction to include fried foods that were too hot to be touched and things I had washed with bleach in the laundry room sink. I dropped 10 pounds in my first two weeks of school.
Since then I’ve relaxed my issues enough to include baked fish and non-seafood salads at extremely posh restaurants. Outside of special occasions I stick with the same 10 restaurants (all have passed the odor test and have never received lower than a 95 on the inspection notice) and will only order the hottest vegetarian option on the menu… as long as the waiter doesn’t have acne.
Chris doesn’t have any food hangups. He can eat anything from anywhere… he’s one of those people who orders the grouper special in small midwestern towns. If anything, he equates grime with flavor. When I’m not with him in Atlanta I’m pretty sure he visits one of the grossest places in one of the most questionable parts of town and eats his weight in BBQ at least once a week. The one time I went with him to this “establishment” I ended up putting a napkin between myself and the seat and closing my eyes until the basket of fries magically arrived under my nose.
As a result of our culinary differences Chris is always on the lookout for a compromise restaurant. He honestly believes we will find a place that will provide him authentic guy food while offering me a selection of non-fried choices that I can eat with my eyes open. At first I was open to this possibility but after a couple of doozies I grew resistant to Chris’ recommendations and began using sideline tactics to distract his hunger whenever we were in unfamiliar parts of town. I actually thought we had tabled this quest but three weeks ago he started telling me about a new (very clean) hotdog stand offering interesting vegetarian creations. I brushed it off. A week later he came home from a Lowes run smelling like hotdogs and once again suggested we try the place his buddies were raving about. So I said “Cool… hey, can you check the drain in the bathroom?”. The day before I was returning to Boulder we mysteriously found ourselves starving while running errands near HD-1, the hotdog stand. Had I not been such a pill that morning I definitely would have resisted the suggestion but I figured I’d give it a whirl and earn back my Coolest Wife On Earth status while finally getting the opportunity to put this mythical “culinary compromise” to rest.
I wasn’t sure where the place was located so I was definitely surprised when we pulled into the lot that use to house the dumpsters for the old Drugstore on Ponce… the one where the “ladies” would hang while waiting for the midnight patrons to leave the Majestic… and Chris, knowing what was about to come, jumped out of the car and ran inside before I could unfasten my seatbelt. By the time I got to the menu board he was already ordering and it became clear that I would have no say in the fact that I was about to eat lunch on top of thousands of hours of hooker activities. My flesh turned cold as I turned to the lunch board, sealing what was sure to be a horrible fate for the rest of the afternoon.
Flash forward to now. I’m writing this post because I’m actually craving the vegetarian hotdog I ate that afternoon. I swear, I tried so hard to have an awful first impression but the place was crisp, the staff was funky clean, and the smell was making my stomach rumble with hunger. I also tried hard to not find anything on the menu I would eat but instead I found myself discouraged at having to choose between 3 solid options. In the end I landed on what you see here. This is is a grilled carrot topped with fried green tomatoes, home made chow chow, BBQ sauce and farm peppers. For safety I ordered a side of waffle fries… and was in heaven.