A few days ago, we went to a Spanish café/restaurant that we’ve been to several times before, and I ordered the same goat’s cheese salad I ordered before. I checked the menu—again—to make sure they hadn’t sneaked any meat into the only meat-free salad on the menu. They hadn’t. I relaxed.
More fool me: when the otherwise meat-free salad turned up, they had sprinkled scraps of ham on it, like the weird culinary tic of a sectionable sous-chef. When I complained, they responded that I should have told them about anything I might not want on my salad, because sometimes they would make the salads “better” without asking.. It had presumably been my responsibility to give the chef a comprehensive list of everything I didn’t want in my meal, and never to trust the ingredients they declared on the menu.
I sent it back; and eventually, I got my salad, but with bonus chopped tomato all over it. Whether that was there to hide the lingering traces of ham—like so much pork gelatin in yoghurt—I will never know. But remember, if you’re going to Spain, don’t have the temerity to be vegetarian. Or Jewish. Or have an allergy. Unless you carry around photocopies of your personal list of ingredient dislikes. Laminated. In slices of ham. Haminated.