What Would You Do?

I'm still struggling about whether I did the right thing. I'm sure you understand . . . or . . . was I wrong? That's where I am, dithering back and forth over my actions. N and I joined my folks for dinner at one of their favorite local (to them) cafes. Rosie's reminds me of White's; a small town eatery with booths, tables, seats at the counter and a typical cafe menu.

After settling into a booth, I began browsing the menu trying to predict which item would be my best bet. The dinner special seemed over priced and heavy, so I picked a BLT with a green salad on the side. When N's dinner salad arrived I noted that the dressing wasn't on the side (dang! I should've anticipated that!), although, I have to admit, the iceberg lettuce wasn't a surprise.

When the waitress brought over our orders, I picked up my fork to begin digging into my salad and after my first bite I stopped. I knew that taste and it wasn't a warm fuzzy food memory. In my youth I worked at Sizzler and then later at a little deli that specialized in "pocket sandwiches", they both used a powder called "potato white" or a member of the sulfite family (mental note: must tell N it can also be used to get rid of tree stumps). It's a sulfite used in rinse water to prevent vegetables from turning brown or wilting.  Restaurants stopped using Sodium metabisulfite in 1986, but it's still found in pre-packaged items purchased from distributors.

I honestly tried, but couldn't take another bite of my side salad. And when the waitress stopped by our table at the end of the meal, I didn't tell her. My justification for not explaining why my salad was uneaten? They're a small place, specializing in simple food. Would they care if I told them I could taste the sulfites or that I believe it's an all around bad idea? Was I being overly critical after already trying to work past the dressing served on the salad and the use of iceberg lettuce?  Are there times when it's better to just keep your mouth shut?


Anonymous said...

Probably you should have just asked for dressing on the side in the first place, and no you probably couldn't expect anything more than iceburg from this little diner. That's a letdown, but an expected one I suppose.

As for the sulfites, what does the FDA or food laws say about them? If they're legal, than you did the right thing by choosing not to eat the salad because of your feelings about it, and saying something to the waitress would have been your prerogative. If the substance is something harmful or illegal however, maybe something should have been said.

KandN said...

From what I've been able to find on the web (best info at this link ), it sounds like a restaurant or grocery store may not use sulfites on fresh fruits or vegetables, but it's okay if pre-packaged items have been treated--like bagged salad. Labels (fine print?) are supposed to state the presence of these chemicals.
I guess we have to rely on the knowledge of the workers if we're eating bagged salad or fruit?

tracylee said...

And I know that one of my favorite restaurants here in town uses large bags of greens mix and a straight romaine, I've seen them open them into the tubs. I always asked for whatever salad I had to be on romaine so as not to get any iceburg in the mix. But then again, they know me well enough to accommodate just about anything I ask for.

KandN said...

Tracylee, Feels good to be spoiled and appreciated, doesn't it?
I don't think iceberg is totally worthless--almost, but not totally.

tracylee said...

I just can't stand the aftertaste that iceburg leaves in my mouth, so I've always tried to avoid it. Actually, now that I can't eat lettuce, it wouldn't be an issue, would it?

I keep thinking that sometime when I go to my favorite place, I'll order a chef's salad or cobb salad without the lettuce. I'm quite sure they'd do that for me, even though it's a bit odd, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Is this the place in Mill City? Good to know about the sulfites - if I took a bite of that salad, it would kill me.

Lori Ann said...

Ordering a chef without lettuce is no weirder than my son ordering a double cheese without the meat. And he never gets a break for leaving off the meat anywhere, even when nothing else is substituted.

If it was a little diner, they probably wouldn't have another salad choice. However, I owned a business and I would have wanted to know. Sulfites were a big deal here in the 70's when someone died from a salad soaked in them. I'd let them know that you could taste it, you and many others have allergies and perhaps they didn't know that if you rinse the greens before each shift it would help.

I always rinse and rehydrate bagged greens if I get stuck with them.

KandN said...

Tracylee, Sounds like an idea for a new menu item to me. :>)
Anonymous, No, not in Mill City. It's in Washington state. I'll bet you ask every time you order salad, if you're allergic. Something I'd never think to do, since I believed sulfites were a thing of the past in restaurants.
Lori Ann, Good thought. If I return (and there's a good chance I will, with my folks) I'll tell them my thoughts. Thank you.