Everything But…

We all know someone who – when out at a resto – places an order, but has a ‘but’. ‘I’d like the vegetarian pizza, but can I get that without the mushrooms?’ This change to the order becomes critical to them and their well being. ‘I can’t have mushrooms’, they claim, or ‘I’m allergic,’ they say matter-of-factly. It’s not these teensy weensy changes to their meals that make you want to hide behind your oversized menu, it’s the pre-planned excuse that accompanies it. And there always is an excuse. In this case, the excuse is allergies, but they range from subtle excuses, such as ‘I just don’t like them,’ to extreme and the overly elaborate excuses, such as ‘I have a taste aversion to mushrooms.’

I’ve been out with friends for meals, who have made a mockery of changes; I’ve had friends who have requested dishes without any oil (can I get a dry chicken breast please?), vegetables steamed on the side, but only green vegetables, no carbs and extra salad instead, the list continues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint either. I don’t eat anything from under the sea (cue laughter). Yes, thats right. I eat every meat out there, yet the idea of killing adorable little sea creatures makes me sad. This is a choice I made and have stuck by for about fifteen fish-free years. At the time when I decided to rid seafood from my diet, my friends and family supported me, likely thinking it was just a phase. Just like my phase of wearing a new Blossom-style hat everyday (hello 90’s), and my phase of matching everything from the colour of my hair elastics and gum to the colour of my outfit. In any case, what used to be accepted by others regarding my eating habits, is now constantly questioned each time I go out for a meal of food with a new person. We all make our own decisions regarding what we do and don’t want to eat. As twentysomethings, we should be allowed to make those decisions without having to justify them, don’t you think? For some reason though, when someone goes ahead and orders everything but…suddenly those around them become judgemental.
Take the Sex and the City episode in Season six, when Carrie is on a date with her new boyfriend Berger. They are out at a new up-and-coming restaurant, and she places her ‘everything but… ‘Here’s the scene:

Waiter: Good evening. You folks are ready to order?

Carrie: Um… yes! Let’s see, um,…I’m going to start with goat cheese salad and then I’ll have the tuna but, sir, can you make sure there’s no parsley on anything? I’m just really allergic. Not even a sprinkling ever on the plate.

Berger: Hey, you got her. No parsley.

Carrie: and, can… actually can, uh,…can you ask the chef if the marinade for the tuna has parsley in it? Because if it does I should probably change my order.

Waiter: I’ll go check/ Thank you.

Berger: You’re not allergic.

Carrie: What?

Berger: You’re not allergic.

Carrie: I don’t like it!

Berger: Why don’t you just say that?

Carrie: Because when I say that, parsley somehow, magically appears on the plate and I feel bad because I have to send it back.

Berger: You didn’t even order something that usually comes with parsley.

Carrie: It comes with everything.

Cue awkwardness. They are at a great restaurant on a date, and instead of just accepting that everyone has their own quirks, Berger is so caught up with patronizing her. We all have Berger’s in our lives. What it comes down to is we all have our own reasons for things. Restaurants get it all the time. Sure it’s likely annoying for them to make all these exceptions here and there based on people’s particular tastes – hey, some restaurants may say they make the change, and go ahead and throw that ingredient in. It’s come to the point where there are so many requests to change orders, followed by so many excuses, that I question if a restaurant says they will remove something, without following through, writing it off as another picky person.

Today I went for Chinese food with my dad to a cute little resto in an upper-scale area. I ordered my go-to dish, beef and broccoli, and asked my server if it had oyster sauce, to which she replied no. Since most beef and broccoli dishes contain this ingredient, I thought I was being scammed and decided to ask another server, to which he responded yes. I then told him I am allergic to oysters and cannot have oyster sauce, and requested a black bean sauce as the stand-in. After this I got to wondering, if I was really allergic, and Server 1 insisted that there wasn’t any oyster sauce and I went ahead and ordered the dish, eating it up to the very last bite, I could’ve broken out in hives, been rushed to the hospital, and the restaurant in turn could get sued.

As the beef and broccoli dish arrived at my table and was placed in front of me, I gave a suspicious look to the server. I went ahead and ate the meal, but gave the woman that look (we all know the look) every time she walked by. I convinced myself that this Chinese restaurant, which will remain nameless, had plotted to test me to see if I was in fact Little Miss Picky, or if I had an allergy.

Which makes me wonder, how many of you out there ever question what you are actually being served? Is there a certain ingredient that you are adamant about not eating? I’d love to hear of your experiences with an ‘everything but…’ kind of person. Because really, at the end of the day, shouldn’t we embrace our friends quirks and accept them? It’s intriguing how quick we are to judge, when we in fact do the same thing.

2 Responses to Everything But…

  1. Veronika says:

    I will absolutely not eat a steak that is rare or even medium rare. I ask for medium or medium well, and if it is too pink, I just have to send it back. I also ask for olives and mushrooms to be removed from certain dishes.I think some people are picky because they actually don't like something, and others just want to be perceived as high maintenance.

  2. I like things the way I like them and I don’t think I should be shamed for ordering food how I want to eat it. I do not find it enjoyable to order something that’s kinda what I want only to marginally enjoy it. If I don’t like Swiss cheese (I find it revolting), but a sandwich comes with Swiss, I’m going to ask for something different. If a restaurant says “no substitutions”, I’ll pick something that I know I’ll really like, as is. If I specifically order something and it comes out wrong, I am sending it back, unashamed. I was a server and I was never annoyed when people ordered things in a certain way or if they sent back food that was wrong. I don’t know about the chefs, but it didn’t bother me.

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