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.

This entry was posted in body, commerce, consumption, diary, experience, food, location, person, society, spain, tourism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Postscraps

  1. 1looby says:

    I had the same problem when we lived in Portugal. Lived on omelettes — about the one thing they actually left “unimproved”.

    I’d love to go to India for this reason — to travel in a place where vegetarianism was a long-established cultural pattern, rather than a misunderstood act of deviance.

    • smallbeds says:

      Yeah, it would certainly make a nice change. It’s a shame because, if we lived over there permanently ourselves, we would be absolutely fine: Spanish fruit and veg from the local markets is astonishingly cheap.

      But that prevailing culture, and the disdain with which they treat their cheap, bountiful vegetable produce, would have the net result of restaurateurs effectively teaching us not to eat in their restaurants, but to eat at home instead. It’s just less hassle, less discomforting, less patronising and vaguely upsetting. That can’t be what they’re after, surely.

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