Thursday, January 31, 2008

mmmm nachos?

When I studied abroad during college, I lived in Argentina for 3 months. I quickly learned that in order to remain a vegetarian (I couldn't be vegan or I would have starved to death), I would order a vegetable dish "sin jamon." That's right, I had to specify no ham on things like cheese pizza. I chalked it up to cultural differences, adapted accordingly, and went on my merry way.

Last night, I discovered that Michigan is like another country, compared to what I'm used to in NY and CA. Jason had a mad craving for fajitas from Chilis, and because I had recently come in to some money (read: my former employer finally paid me what they owed me) and I'm a very nice girlfriend, we headed out to dinner. The great* thing about restaurants like this, is that there are very few vegetarian options. There might be a hamburger substitute, which no offense, is generally sub-par and tiring, or mozarrella sticks, which are tasty, but des can't handle a lot of fried cheese.

I decided to go for the nachos. Here is the direct quote from the menu:
Our nachos have beans, queso with a hint of seasoned beef, cheese and jalapenos on every chip. Served with pico de gallo and sour cream.
Sounds tasty, except for the beef. So I checked with the server that I could in fact get them without beef, he said no problem, and I continued drinking my strawberry lemonade.

When the food arrived, I breathed a sigh of hunger and relief. Until I saw my nachos. Sure, there was no ground beef, just like I asked. Instead, I had apparently gotten a free "upgrade" to steak. I was like, um why is there meat on these? And the guy said "I thought you said no beef" and I was like "I didn't know that I had to specify no steak either, because nowhere on the menu does it say there is steak on these nachos." Besides the fact that saying no beef should include no steak, as steak is a form of beef.

The server was a little confused as to why I wouldn't want any meat. After some careful negotiations involving Jason the Michiganese translator, I got some new nachos sans meat. They were tasty though I could not eat them all. But I've learned my lesson. In this strange and exotic(?) new country, I must be very very specific when ordering vegetarian food as just because something comes from a cow doesn't mean it's beef.

* not great


viciousrumours said...

Ahhh...the adventure continues. Brave girl. Welcome to the North. You make me nostalgic for home.

super des said...

is it much different in Utah?

Suzanne said...

I think anywhere that does not have a diverse urban culture is like this. Husband once went to a meeting in Texas with a guy who kept kosher. At the meeting, they ordered lunch and the kosher guy requested a vegetarian meal. He was served a plate of mashed potatoes. With bacon bits.

super des said...

Clearly bacon bits are both kosher and vegetarian.

mar said...

yep, sounds like the two years i tried to be a vegetarian in north dakota. haha! that was (not) great.

and c'mon! everyone knows that bac'n bits aren't really made out of bacon. it's just like krab.

super des said...

So bacn bits are made of another part of pig, just like krab is made of another fish?

(and I know real crab isn't a fish, but y'all know what I mean.)

Count Mockula said...

HA! No beef? We'll substitute with steak. That makes perfect sense!

I have been offered imitation crab on SO MANY occasions from people who think that it is vegetarian.

Amy Jo said...

I've only been in the midwest a handful of times, but I can tell that they take their meat seriously. Good luck with all that! I'm sure you'll find a charming 'des' way around it!

might I add...? said...

Oh my, does this ever remind me of when I lived in the Midwest. Meat in everything. Or flavoring everything. I hated it. I mean, at least, could you be obvious when you put meat in something?

This is one reason I *loved* eating in Indian restaurants. They didn't "hide" the meat. Things were meat dishes or veg dishes. And yummy, to boot.

Probably if you can find any "hip" restaurants, that might be your best bet. Good luck. I feel for you.

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