Monday, May 19, 2008

What Would You Do: Restaurant Gives Meat to Vegetarian (Also, There's a Mango Salsa Recipe in Here Somewhere)

(Apologies for the longest, most nonsensical post title, ever. Must ... work ... on ... brevity.)

We had a strange situation this weekend, and I’d love to solicit a few opinions from everybody. It’s definitely more of an etiquette dealie, but frugality and good business sense definitely factor in. I’m just not sure what we should have done.

Here’s the scenario: Saturday night, some friends were in from out of town and we all met up at a fancy Italian restaurant. The place was gorgeous, the wine was tasty, and all seemed well at first. When our time came to order, my friend H, a vegetarian since she was 13, specifically asked if the Potato Leek Soup was made with vegetable stock. The waiter, without checking, said, “yes.”

Can you guess what comes next?

Two or three bites into the soup, H pushed it away and grumbled, “Oh yeah, that’s chicken stock.” Three of us took a whiff, and – oooo, yup - no doubt about it. When the waiter swung by to check on us, H (not cruelly, but pointedly) expressed her displeasure and asked him to check with the chef.

Five minutes later: “Yes, it’s chicken broth. The recipe was changed,” he shot off, not quite apologetically. (Defensively, maybe? Even snobbily?)

H was unhappy (to say the least) and requested that the soup be cut from the bill. The rest of the night proceeded without incident until we received the ($300+) check, which (naturally) included the soup. We specifically had to ask for a new bill with the offending item removed.

Now … what would you have done? I think we should have asked to have her entire meal comped, and the restaurant should have bent over backwards to accommodate us for the rest of the night. While feeding meat to a vegetarian (probably) isn’t deadly, it’s … not good. What if she was Hindu, and it was beef broth? Or what if she had a peanut allergy? All in all, I think we handled it gracefully, but I wouldn’t have blamed H if she had lobbed a fork at somebody’s groin. We’re absolutely not going back, ever.


And with that aside – it’s today’s food! I’ve made mango salsa quite a few times, and stunningly, prefer Weight Watchers’ recipe to all others. Of course, there are some things to know:

1) It's insanely flexible, meaning it can be spread on chicken breast, scooped with tortilla chips, mixed with rice, or substituted for body wash in your next shower. (Note: one of those may be false.)

2) It's not a watery salsa, and there are no tomatoes involved. You might want to warn friends/family accordingly.

3) I like it better after it sits for a night, but there's no problem eating it right after assembly.

4) The whole shebang will be significantly cheaper in a month or so, when both red bell peppers and mangos are fully in season. (I couldn’t wait.)

5) For you WW acolytes out there, it’s either 1 or 2 points a serving. Bonus!

6) There is a lot of chopping. Watch your fingers. (Gazes sadly at cuticle of left pointer finger, which has finally stopped bleeding.)

Hope y'all enjoy it, and again - would love to hear your opinions on the restaurant issue. Bring it!

Weight Watchers Mango Salsa
Makes 4 2/3rd cup servings

1/8th t. black pepper
1/8th t. salt
1 ½ T. fresh lime juice
2 medium mangos, chopped small
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
½ jalapeno, diced
1 T. fresh cilantro

1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
90 calories, 0.4 g fat, $1.01

1/8th t. black pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1/8th t. salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1 ½ T. fresh lime juice: 14 calories, 0 g fat, $0.24
2 medium mangos: 269 calories, 1.1 g fat $1.98
1 medium red bell pepper: 31 calories, 0.4 g fat, $1.19
½ red onion, diced: 35 calories, 0 g fat, $0.31
½ jalapeno, diced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
1 T. fresh cilantro: negligible calories and fat, $0.25
TOTAL: 358 calories, 1.5 g fat, $4.02
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 90 calories, 0.4 g fat, $1.01

(Additional photo from


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