Eat The Garnish

Remember as a kid when your parents had to tell you not to eat the parsley that accompanied your dinner? I was always mystified by this idea of food as a decoration. Why would a restaurant put food on your plate if you weren’t supposed to eat it? What was the point?

This thought occurred to me again as I saved my martini from being whisked away by an overly efficient waitress at Fiction, a local restaurant/martini bar/hangout. True, the drink itself was finished, but the best part of the drink remained: two lonely cranberries huddled together for protection at the bottom of my glass, awaiting the inevitable. Meanwhile, my drink’s lemon wedge patiently perched on the edge of my glass, waiting for the chance to jump for the door and make tracks to Mexico…and freedom!

The waitress’s haste only served to underline what my parents had tried to teach me as a child: it’s not food, stupid, it’s garnish. But does anyone know what it takes to get a fresh lemon and two cranberries to the West Coast of Canada in the middle of spring? Well, I sure don’t, not even after looking on the Internet. Damn Google. But even without Internet confirmation, I’m certain it isn’t easy.

How much of that garnish is actually good food going to waste? Consider the forms of garnish that most people send back uneaten:

  • Cranberries
  • Lemon and orange wedges
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Carrot slices
  • French fries

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency food discards in 1995 generated 14 million tons of waste. A mere 5% of this amount of food would be enough to feed roughly 4 million people for a day!

With all of the starvation in the world, why do we waste this food? It’s simple: we’re a product of a society obsessed with form and presentation because we have nothing left to occupy our time and attention. Garnish is to food as Gucci is to loafers. And in the case of the wicker loafers they’re probably both made of the same stuff. So the next time you’re out for a meal and it’s better dressed than you, eat the garnish.

The Ugly Side Of 9-11

Fate has a either a cruel sense of humour, or an unparalleled appreciation for subtlety that only the most sophisticated observer might recognize. Travelling on the ferry from Hoboken to Manhattan, I conclude it can only be the former, as anyone who knows me knows I’m anything but a sophisticated observer. To my right, Lady Liberty’s gaze into the horizon falls at a perfect right angle to the direction of the gaping hole where the twin towers of the World Trade Center used to stand. It’s ironic, in a twisted way, that the attack struck in the exact location that the symbol of American freedom wasn’t looking.

In the streets of New York, a different kind of attack is striking a proverbial blind spot, transforming an act of aggression into America’s favorite pastime: making a quick buck. Everywhere I look, someone is looking to capitalize on the tragedy. There are hats adorned with the symbols of the FDNY and PDNY, pictures of the WTC, and even snow globes containing models of the Twin Towers. Nothing is too tacky to commemorate the event. Though the economy took a significant beating in the wake of the attacks, I have to wonder what shape the economy would be in without these scam-artists posing as patriots. God Bless America.

Where would we be without commercialism?

That’s not to say that Canada is above this hucksterism. At Vancouver airport, I noticed a pin at a local vendor proclaiming our unity with our American brethren: $5.00, with “a percentage of the profit” going to the victims of September 11th. Is zero a valid percentage? Who are these people? Innovative Trends, a firm in the Lower Mainland whose name suggests their business is to cash in on trends in “innovative” ways. Apparently, transacting business without a conscience is today’s idea of innovation.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps Innovative Trends, and companies like them, are working to help the victims of September 11th. However, I find it interesting to note the dearth of companies working to provide similar revenue streams to ease the suffering in other areas of the world. America is infatuated with melodramatic spectacles, benefit concerts, and stories of brave heroes. But all of this costs money. Watching smart bombs cream targets on CNN is a lot sexier and sells a lot more advertising minutes than giving condoms or vaccines to Third World countries without electricity or clean water.

So I guess the question I would ask the American public is: do you want to stop terrorism, or do you actually want to make a contribution to the world? Just how much money does a victim of the terrorist attack need? No amount of money or military action will bring back the sons and daughters lost that fateful day. Maybe it’s time we redirected our efforts from this distraction to something that will actually make the world a better place.

But, to quote Dennis Miller, “that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”