So many choices at a salad bar. Not as many, it seems, as local drive up cracky speaker, self-serve (any more) fast food joints, though. I have to mindfully decide to up-size my heaping spring salad mix instead of that decision being forced upon me by well-intentioned, high margin cholesterol pushers. No fizzy sodas. No grease smells wafting around my clothes that gleefully linger throughout the day. Just me, the lettuce options, and …. so much more.
I’ve done this salad bar thing before – inside a local grocery store, where fifty-year old guys contemplate their internal organ conditions and consider a healthy lunch option every so often. Shouldn’t speak for other guys, however, ’cause I never nudge elbows or share baby corn tongs. I’m always alone. Me and #4471, the code for weighing the multi-colored , sometimes dry concrete heavy monstrosity I end up with at the end. Some say, “Eat salads! They’re light ..” … Yeah, right.
If I don’t somehow manage to drop 16 other containers on the floor trying to unglue one off the top, the process usually begins post haste. Four lettuce types – only one of which I really like: CHUNKS !!. Love the chunks. Iceberg chunks. If spinach and spring mix came in heaping chunks and cores of deliciousness, I believe the earth could stop spinning right now. Could’t find too many of these within the icy bins holding all the necessary base-salad leafy greens, so an assortment of boringly flat, wimpy, “please take me” scratch had to do.
Sliding down the bar of no-fat/no joy, I encountered the next option: smaller vegetables. Carrots shaved down to one size larger than the human hair, onion circles attached to one another somewhere rendering one without six others almost impossible, and cherry tomatoes sized to not match the end of the very tongs assigned to them … all standard utility every time I visit. Accompanying these were the peas soaking in water (no thanks), small dry broccoli and cauliflower florets, olives, and bell pepper slivers. Necessary pile-ons. To pass over these would’ve been sacro-salad-sanc. How embarrassing it would have been to the scratch spinach .. naked to the world, uncovered, bare, exposed – if only for a minute as I focused my attention on the next, most sexy-named group: Les Legumes.
“Ah, my sweet Legumes”, rolls off the tongue as easily as, “I love you, my lovely sweet plume.”. As an aside, say it with a deep French accent – not aloud in the grocery store, but very much alone as you read this …. Anyhow…chickpeas, black beans, white beans, or pinto beans – the third choice group down the slide. My pleasure in this group is watching the little tan chicks roll around, finding their way through the cracks and hopefully disappearing into the darkness. THIS is why chunks are so important! They give topography to the salad. Depth. Meaning. Never would I ever pass by my little chick-a-dee-peas.
Around the corner to the tough neighborhood. Feeling the weight upon my shoulders and #4471 friend, we enter the dark alley of the macaroni boys. Their gatekeeper, at the end, was a group who shake down all who dare to turn: bacon bit and crouton tumblers who will mix it up with you if you dare. I chose not to, walking wide around the alley of despair, hoping to face the macaroni boys head on – feeling quite confident as I previously avoided these two without incident.
The macaroni boys are bold and arrogant. They hold special favor in the salad bar neighborhood due to their heft. They throw around their multi-syllabic mac-a-ro-ni weight knowing a few ladle-fulls in a plastic bin of unawareness can tip the scales in the favor of profitability. Next to the hard boiled egg clan living next door, who could provide an admiral food fight, the M.B’s hold a tight reign of terror over salad bar city. I plucked a few spiral cousins, gently, from the clan before the bosses recognized me, and quickly shuffled out of there before trench coat Willie spotted me and put out a pasta hit on my ^ss.
Last up the line were the incidentals. The unintendeds. Colory little hickeymadoos the grocery store so graciously allows us to see. A few drop down meats of fish pieces, turkey chunks, ham, chicken, and protein options strewn about usually find their way into my one-or-two chunk pile salads. Cheeses shredded down, and nuts of all naturally nuttiness, nutrious goodness get a spoonful or two of my attention. … Puddings, salsas, and creams (I think) don’t, but are there for another fifty-year old(ish) guy wanting some. Possibly crackers in packages and dressings in bottles to use are there and packs of same to buy separately at a ridiculously high per ounce price.
Certainly other salad bars – and this one as well – have other, different, items available for the more discerning shopper. I am a focused – know what I want at the end of a salad bar tong – guy. That said, the check-out always surprises me. Always. I blame BABY CORN ON THE COBS!. The damn things must weigh 3 pounds each. Ordinarily, #4471 should be reasonably priced, right?
I’m not going to rant on and on … know why? Because I’m not going to change. I’m not going to ever make a salad at a salad bar without them in order to find out the difference in price. They’re just that good.
Feeling proud of my decision to eat healthy, I finished my salad while in the process of writing this short salad saga. My friend, #4471, and I can close out the the entry proud we did it together.
I snapped shut an empty plastic container about an hour ago and will be placing it into the recycle bin shortly. Thankful, as always, to share this time with you … and, in a way, to have my clothes not smell like grease.
I mark my life safe from the macaroni boys as well for another day.