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Dear The Olive Garden

I came to your blessed haven of overpriced, fatty, glorified fast food for the first time in many months. I slid my lardy bottom across your glorious, vinyl booth seat and thanked the fates that I still fit. I did this because I have quit smoking and I wanted to eat something bad for me instead. I opened your menu and felt my sense of release and splendor disappear as my eyes scanned your offerings only to find that you have provided calorie counts on every single item.

I am a menu reader. I love menus. I love to revel in the mystery of the caloric content of the excesses. I love to tell myself lies about how much protein must be in the deep fried meat items, to imagine that a fudgy cake has some hidden nutritive value beyond increasing my serotonin levels. I love to order a whole appetizer and think it is reasonable as a meal, since–though designed for two or more persons–it is not a massive amount of food.

You have destroyed my suspension of disbelief, Olive Garden. You have soiled the joy I once experienced in the annals of your vast, rich pasta offerings. You have told the truth, and in so doing you have inverted the order of my skewed food logic.

I’m sure you have patrons who are grateful for this menu theater. I’m sure you have patrons who would not change their decisions about what to order based on these arbitrary numbers listed, in italic font, below the faux Italian titles of the dishes.

You have exacerbated the war I wage between myself and my desire to eat healthfully, except for when I do not desire to do so, which is when I come to you, Olive Garden. You have ruined the lone redemptive quality of your absurdist “Italian” cuisine: the mystery of the nutrition.

More, I feel strongly that you are inhibiting my freedom of choice. If I wanted to know, I would visit your website. You are reminding me of the guilt and shame associated with the remarkable overeating your bottomless salads and soups and bread sticks encourage. You have made a strong, ugly stand that you haven’t a libertarian molecule in your Darden soul, and you have ruined what minor desire I had to visit your jolly, rotund universe of phony Americanized Italian dishes swimming in sauce and cheese and oily cuts of meat.

You are like the California McDonalds that have been ordered not to include happy meal toys in fatty meals to remind parents that they are shoddy moms and dads because they order deep fried slivers of “chicken” and “potato” for the developing bodies they have sired. You refuse to acknowledge my ability to make decisions for myself, or the possibility that I enjoy the fantasy that calories do not exist inside your plaster walls.

I may never return, for the fun, the joy, the lust is gone.

Sincerely,
April

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