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I am Increasingly Bored with Western Style Dining

Bottom line is I want more veggies.

Increasingly I find my self kinda bored with Western style dining.

Dinky salad with itsy greens, too much cheese/dressing/nuts

Served with one of the following as a main, alternatively:

Big portion of protein: steak, fish, stew, burger (which I don't finish and take 1/2 of home)


Big portion of pasta which often has too much cream, meat, etc associated with it

I love a good steak, chop, piece of fish, but usually I find I need 1/3 of your average portion.

Then, I find myself in a battle to get enough veg.

At a recent dinner in Boston I wanted a large bowl of gumbo and two veg sides ($5 each) and was warned that the veg sides were tiny and I probably would not be full. So I got the big meaty main, for the same price, and once again gorged on meat.

I find myself going more often to Asian places where I know I stand a fighting chance of actually getting some veggies. And honestly, even the protein dishes are more artfully, interestingly prepared.

Even Mexican and South American, though often light on the veg, are at least more interesting and tasty.

How often do I want a large (fill in the blank, grilled roasted, broiled, baked) slab of animal protein slathered in some (again fill in the blank, peppercorn, aioli, crem) sauce.

Most of the world, certainly 50 years ago, just does not eat this way. To some extent I guess it is really the cuisine of affluence.

Typical meal I make for myself at home: large bowl of fish soup with lots of local tomato and corn (emphasis on the veg, light on the fish) fresh baked bread, and a large side of rappini. When I am done I feel full, happy, and healthy. Not stuffed and wheezing on fatty beef.

I feel that increasingly I want to eat like a poor peasant somewhere. Simple natural flavors, heavy on the veg and carb, a dash of tasty protein.

I recently had a delicious meal where I was served nearly a pound of duck and prosciutto. My salad was tiny and cheesy, the main had no veg at all. Dessert was a HUGE glob of ice cream and cake. It tasted great. I felt sick when I was done.

I am just plain burnt out on the American gorge fest. No wonder so many of us weigh 200 pound plus.

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  1. I don't see what your problem is, living in an area where you can find the type of cuisine you prefer. And at home you can eat a vegetable-centred diet. I don't like overly meat-heavy food either. So that isn't what I usually eat.

    18 Replies
    1. re: lagatta

      Yes, but if I want to eat at any place that has a decent vibe, serves a nice cocktail, or has a reasonable wine list, I am basically out of luck.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        This is the more interesting hypothesis: one cannot get a decent vibe, a nice cocktail, and a reasonable wine list other than with boring western style dining.

        That may be part of the reason I drink good wines at home, served with NON-western style dining.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Striper, yes this can be a problem in certain places. Don't idealise all of "South American" cuisine. In countries where the Indigenous cultures developed a sophisticated cuisine, such as Peru (and of course the same can be said for Mexico in North America) you do find a "non-Western cuisine", despite colonial influences, but my closest friends from South America hail from the Southern Cone countries (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay)... Meat-centred cuisine in spades down there, and not always a great choice of veg.

          I take it you are from the Boston area, hardly a cultural backwater. Here in Montréal (not a long trip) you might enjoy some of our broadly Middle Eastern restaurants, where although there is certainly meat and fish there is an abundance of all kinds of veg. (And some have very good wine lists).

          No, I'm not about to reserve for our famous meat-heavy Au Pied du Cochon, but there are lots of other places to eat. I'd think the strong academic presence in and around Boston would mean a lot of vegetarian restaurant patrons. And of course you have fish. (yum).

          1. re: lagatta

            You kind of miss my point; which is: Veg is good, and eventually most contemporary Euro/American preps are just boring.

            I had a very nice dinner at a Chilean place recently, which, though somewhat meat/fish oriented was at least interesting.

            I'd rather eat what a traditional (fill in the blank, Italian, Aussie Aborigine, Sami, Innuit, French, Vietnamese, Hmong, Hopi, Mayan, Uighur, Basque, Scotch, Dane, Yoruba, Akan, Wolof, Fante, Masai, etc) would eat prior to the modern era, than the boring hunk o' protein fare that is increasingly ubiquitous around the world!

            1. re: StriperGuy

              I think you may be building a food elitism case for yourself there, and maybe for the wrong reason. The overuse of meat has become, for better or worse, a symbol of prosperity and hospitality due to its scarcity in so many cultures, historically even if not currently.It was symbolic of being a good host, which of course everybody wants to be. It got out of control at some point, certainly.

              I remember reading a travel article where the writer realized during a dinner with a local family somewhere far from the USA, that he had just eaten the whole family's meat ration for probably a week.

              In the 21st century, it's so easy to get a culturally diverse meal with or without meat, I can't help wondering why you're making it sound like it's hard to get away from meat, because it isn't.

              1. re: EWSflash

                "The overuse of meat has become, for better or worse, a symbol of prosperity and hospitality."

                I don't disagree, in fact that is my point, I don't enjoy it.

                From above: "if I want to eat at any place that has a decent vibe, serves a nice cocktail, or has a reasonable wine list, I am basically out of luck."

              2. re: StriperGuy

                I hear complaints all the time from my Italian and Vietnamese friends about how bored they are with Scotch, Danish, Yoruban, Hopi, Mayan, Uighur, Hmong and Masai cuisine, and about how grateful they are that Western American cuisine is so much different from the others which are predominated by vegetables. And who ever found a vegetable on a menu in Mexico? Actually, I have a home in Mexico and my enlightened Mexican friends are sensitive about the lack of vegetables in their diets.

                1. re: LRunkle

                  But even traditional Mexican food, though perhaps a bit light on greens, was largely vegetable based: rice, corn, nopales, potatos, meat traditionally was a luxury.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    rice, corn, potatoes?????

                    the western diet does not lack in carbs and starches i.e. rice, corn, potatoes

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  I was going to say you sound bored with what you normally get. Elitist? Possibly, but that would fit me too then. In between my cooking, I have to work at finding restaurants and dishes that aren't the same ol' same ol'. Often Thai or Chinese fills the bill.

                  In my opinion you can usually find an entree that fits your criteria. We often just eat appetizers, do tapas or gussied-up salads. I like salmon and tuna on salads.
                  When it comes to huge steaks, half a duck or a whole rack of ribs, I'm with you. The large servings and the excess borders on disgusting to me. I'd rather not have to get food "wrapped" or "to go" all the time. That ends up generating waste. If I eat out I often order fish because the portions are smaller. I then fix meats at home and have portions and combinations to my liking. You won't catch me at steak houses.
                  I don't know that you want to eat like a peasant. Peasant Mexican, for example: much of it is nothing but carbs and fat and it's often boring.

                  1. re: Scargod

                    Scar, Steve, go Korean! Very different, lots of veggies, don't do the beaten to death bulgogi & kalbi, try the porridges and fish stews. Find a good place like Seoul in New Haven. Let me know what you find.
                    Go to a vegetarian resto!

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      I live near Annandale, Virginia which has about thirty or so Korean restaurants, some with no sign in English and no English spoken, so I've been to a few in my time. If you ever visit your progeny in this area, give me a shout and we can check out the goods.

                      1. re: Steve

                        Yes, we will. W got a kid in Falls Church!
                        I'm feeling So Juish! We can't even buy it up here and there is not a single solo Korean resto in Maine!

                        1. re: BobB

                          When I was dared by my kids to eat live baby octopus, I got very juish! What a man!

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Before kid we used to make pilgrimages to Koreana in Cambridge to hang out next to the suji-soaked college boys. There are, I've heard, better places than that in Boston now but we haven't had a chance to explore them.

                            Maine is late to the Korean love-fest but it's around. If it hasn't closed by now, Happy Teriyaki in Portland is actually Korean. So there's been one. There used to be a couple more halves of one (Nara in S. Portland and Fuji on Exchange) but Fuji quit serving the stone pot bibimbap that was the only reason to go there, and Nara used to be better.

                            1. re: the_MU

                              thanks, mu. I used to go to Fuji, but stopped for that reason. I am aware of Happy Teriyaki, but haven't been yet. Sad it has to have a Jap. name to succeed. Sad too, it is a 3 1/2 hr drive to Portland; spending the weekend gets expensive. Surprisingly, we eat good Korean when we visit our daughter (this feb.). I am planning a trip to either LA or SF for April vacation and lots of good Korean dining and saving up for another trip to Seoul in June. My mom used to love the cod stew at a place near her house in NJ and I would bring back my so ju fix.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Right, soju not suji -- I'm not much of a drinker :) Is your daughter in Seoul?

                                The non-western food thing got drummed into me early on -- we rented rooms in our house in a college town. One of our renters was Korean. I must've been 17 at the time. Made a huge impression on me when her mom came at graduation and cooked this enormous picnic spread. Most vividly remember the jellyfish salad. Never seen it on a menu, but I don't read Korean. I went with a coworker to a Korean place in northern NJ, called, with great imagination, Koreana, and they had the jellyfish salad. She didn't know what it was called in Korean.

                                Suji -- When I was in college mom rented to a South Indian postdoc, who taught me to fill barathas, and that some dishes can't have too many curry leaves, and that on some specific days her religion dictated that she must eat potatoes, peanuts and tapioca pearls cooked with cumin and chili. Yum. Suji is semolina and is used to make, among other things, uppama, a pilaf-style dish that I still cook frequently but have bastardized by loading it up with extra veggies to turn it into less of a starch-fest. Taught to me in its somewhat more original form by our Indian roomie.

                                There was a Korean restaurant in Tappan, NY called Ocean Garden. I loved that place -- I wrote about it on Chowhound about 10 years ago. Got a haemul chigae there once that must've had sea cucumber in it, but nobody knew what the thing was called in English. Whatever it was, it was the only seafood I've ever eaten that I didn't think actually tasted like food. We were the only non-Koreans I ever saw in there. Went back there a couple of years ago, there was no sign of Ocean Garden, and Food World, the Korean IGA across the street with the giant kimchi bar, looked like it had been closed for months. Very sad.

                3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Striperguy, I see your point. I often am stuck when dining with friends who want a lot of veggie choices but still want a full bar and a nice atmosphere/music which is why I so often cook at home, especially for my vegetarian friends. I hate to drag someone to a restaurant with one choice for them.

            2. I do know what you mean. It often seems like the meat or fish is the "star of the show", on the menu and on the plate, and very little thought is put into what small bit of vegetable goes along with it. Since I eat out very infrequently, I don't mind so much (since I do appreciate nice fish or meat), and get my veggies at home where we are sort of half-way vegetarians.

              1. There are no rules.

                You can order both sides of a meal to be a salad or vegetable and cut the meat portion in half as soon as it is placed in front of you and don't eat it/as for it to be wrapped to take home.

                You can order all vegetable sides to go with soup. Even if they "warn" you it may not be enough, then ask for a third after/if you see how small the first two are.

                You can ask for salad dressing 'on the side' and dip your fork in it then into the lettuce. You can ask for a smaller serving of sauce/gravy-or have that on the side...or scrape it away.

                Bottom line, you are the consumer and can get what you want/crave. I've seen pregnant women an young children do it all the time. I really don't know why you are complaining. You can't change the eating habits of others, but you can satisfy your own.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Cathy

                  You are kind of missing the point as well.

                  At either one of the restaurants above, with the size of their veggie sides, I would have had to pay $40 to get a decent portion.

                  At one, even undressed the salad was PACKED with cheese and nuts with a bit of spinach.

                  I don't like to be the high maintenance diner or spend $80 for a meal of veggies. If I did what you suggest at either of the restaurants I am using as an example, here is what my order would sound like:

                  - Can I have three salads, hold the cheese, hold the nuts, hold the dressing, Oh, ah do you have any extra beets, those beets are really good and there are so few in the salad.

                  - And then for my main course I would like three sides of greens, three sides of squash, and three sides of string beans

                  - Then I will also have the Bluefish (which I will only eat 30% of) with the sauce on the side

                  This would cost me: $8 salad X 3, Veggie sides $5 X 9, Bluefish entree 1 X $24. There, per your suggestion I got the meal exactly how I want it for $88. The wait staff now think I am SUPER high maintenance and insane. Insane I may be, but I dread being the high maintenance diner in a restaurant.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I don't think eating out is for you. You are right that many mainstream restaurants in the US/Canada serve large meat portions. HOWEVER, many also have healthy choices on the menu as well, sometimes 8-10 portion controlled/heavy veggie options. I don't think that Western dining is boring, because most of Western dining is a mix of many cultures. The entrees are inspired by other cultural tastes. You keep saying that people are not getting your point. Maybe your point is not reasonable or well thought-out.

                    1. re: cookieluvntasha

                      Hmmm, for lunch today I had lunch at a Taiwanese place: Chinese watercress with beef in Sa Cha sauce on Jasmine rice. 90% watercress a smidge of beef, lots of spicy sauce. Delicious, healthy, tasty all in one. Couldn't even eat all of it, but wow it was good, and the type of food I LOVE.

                      Of the 50 top Western restaurants here in Boston I don't know three that have "8-10 portion controlled/heavy veggie options." Not sure where you live, but even in NYC you have to go out of your way to find a restaurant that meets your criteria.

                      So I got out 2-3 nights a week, and when I am not eating Asian food, bring home big hunks of protein leftovers, and make do.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        You ate in the style I've eaten all my life. I have a slab of meat ("Western Style") maybe once a year.

                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      Seriously? A place is charging $8 for a side salad and you think $88 is too much for a meal?

                      Is the bluefish entree a la cart anyhow or does it come with one or two sides, thus eliminating the need to order so many additional sides at once?

                      I would not order as much as you have as an initial order. I would probably order 2 of each at most and see if I was still hungry and then order another side or three...

                      Re: salads- I always ask for dressing on the side and no cheese. Plenty of lactose intolerant out there and it is not a "high maintenance" request. Same with nut allergies.

                      Really, if you are going to higher end places as described, you should order exactly what you want.

                      If you started this post to somehow want to change Western Style meals, that is not going to happen. Making it your own wherever you are eating out is how you get to eat what you think is a good meal.

                      ...there are no rules...

                  2. We live in a country where poor people are fat.

                    Once upon a time, it was a laudable goal that everybody in our country would have enough protein and carbohydrates to be safe from starvation. And we've made it happen: a chunk o' cheap meat and some bread / pasta / rice / potatoes have become available to almolst everybody, and Americans have grown taller and stronger than ever before.

                    The problem is that now we're just getting fatter. Commodity meat and processed carbs (including high fructose corn syrup) deserve credit for getting us where we are. But we have to look at the law of unintended consequences.

                    As someone whose appetite consistently stays a step ahead of his metabolism, I can identify with the conundrum. What's good for a 20-year-old isn't necessarily good for a 40-year-old. And what was best for the average American in 1939 isn't what's best for the average American in 2009.

                    We need to change our societal attitude toward consumption. There was a time when the main dietary shortages were of protein and carbs. We've now eliminated those shortages, in large part with plentiful, cheap meat and simple carbs like HFCS. But now that we've satisfied those basic needs, we need to move on to providing a more complete diet.

                    Hopefully the changes can come sooner rather than later. But the only way anything will change is if folks start insisting that what they eat at home and in restaurants be comprised more of real food and less of factory farmed meat and highly processed carbs.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      You are really hitting home with my main point:

                      "We need to change our societal attitude toward consumption... we need to move on to providing a more complete diet... if folks start insisting that what they eat at home and in restaurants be comprised more of real food and less of factory farmed meat and highly processed carbs."

                      Nevermind that what the "gob of protein and carb" diet is doing to our health and the national cost of healthcare.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        interesting...i live in a country where rich people are fat too :)

                        1. re: LaLa

                          Rich people are fat everywhere. Fat poor people are a relatively new phenomenon, and largely limited to the industrialized West.

                        2. re: alanbarnes

                          Alan, that post was downright eloquent. And I didn't feel like it was a dig at my fat *ss, which I also appreciate!

                          1. re: Vetter

                            Those of us who live in glass houses know better than to cast stones.

                        3. Dude you should come to England for a Sunday roast. Quite normal to be served with 6 different veg: Broad beans, cabbage, carrots, green beans, swede, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas...

                          It's all a bit much O__O

                          1. I agree with you to a point, but I don't think it's as bad as all that. I've been to plenty of restaurants that serve wonderful garden salads, but others just use cheap iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and maybe a carrot or two.

                            The only thing that really annoys me about a lot of restaurants with a la carte sides is that the veggie options are usually minimal. There will be 4 varieties of potatoes, 2-3 types of rice, 1-2 noodles, and a vegetable of the day. I don't think most American/European preps are boring though. Most main preps I see when I go to a restaurant typically come with some sort of veggie and some sort of starch. I rarely see something with no veggies, unless it's macaroni and cheese or a burger/fries.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: queencru

                              The places I am discussing are "nice" places with fru fru greens (no iceberg) and numerous options for veggie sides, that said, the meal is still about serving you a BIG wad of protein and it is almost impossible to escape.

                            2. I'm in a position that's exactly the opposite of the OP. I'm an American in the Asian restaurant business. Six out of seven days I eat at least lunch and dinner in the restaurant, with the staff. The meals are often vegetarian, with lots of tofu, and plenty of rice.

                              Where I end up is longing for my day off so I can go to a steak house and have a "square meal."

                              1. You're right - we're eating a lot of meat. BUT I do believe you're idealizing the mythical past. There was, to my knowledge, never a time in history when North Americans could have such easy access to so wildly diverse foods as we have now. Vegetables and fruit from all over the world available every single day of the year? Even when I was a child - and I'm not quite 60 yet - you wouldn't get apples in the summer months. And greens? Are you kidding? What can't you get? I've never seen so many different types of produce available.

                                And don't kid yourself about Inuit or other aboriginal cultures either. They ate what they could catch - and believe me it wasn't very often an heirloom tomato. Many of these northern cultures ate - and still eat - primarily a meat-based diet. In Northern communities a single orange can cost $5.

                                Here are my suggestions. First of all, eat at home. Shop for good foods and learn to cook them well and you'll always have exactly what you want to eat. I realize that your kitchen table may not have the vibe you're looking for, and that there's something enjoyable about eating out, but trendy (vibe-intensive) restaurants are in the business of selling impressive meals - and the best way to impress a North American is with meat. The cheese-on-the-salad thing is a horror, I agree. You can easily ask that cheese be omitted from your salad when eating out. Even in Europe, the emphasis is rarely on the Big Hunk-O-Meat. In a traditional Italian meal, you'll have small portions of everything - vegetables, pasta, meat - which will fill you up but not leave you feeling like you're about to explode. Let's face it, we've done this to ourselves - stop eating at places that provide monster portions of food and the practice will eventually stop. I'm not holding my breath for this to happen anytime soon, though.

                                1. When you say Western style, and then I read what you have to say, I think more of a North American style. I am not nearly as big of a veggie eater as you. The North American style to me is problematic as much due to the small portions of veggies (doesn't bother me), as the blandness of veggie preparations. Many traditions outside of US have signature dishes using vegetables as main ingredients. Especially in Southeast Asia they can be extremely varied and flavorful, but not really any US dishes. I also don't like very much the obsession to fry all sorts of seafood...a North American style for sure.

                                  North American cuisine to me, has a few highlights. The best BBQ, hamburger, fried chicken, and steaks (all meat dishes, ha ha) are really good. Some regional specialties are good. In the end though, the North American style is just a bit one-dimensional and bland to me, and I am not sure how much the affluence of general population is responsible for this unfortunate situation.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dio Seijuro

                                    Please remember that Mexico is a part of North America.

                                  2. Good Gawd, has the entire Small Plates *revolution, trend, phenomenon, fad * passed you by?

                                    1. Stripe, quit your Boston job, go to http://marksesl.com/, get a teaching job in asia and slow down and enjoy life. It's what 2 of my kids are doing and I'm envious as hell. One more kid to get through college and this 60 something old fart is outtahere!
                                      Fish your way around the world. go ahead, do it. I dare you. Double dare you.
                                      Thank me if you do.
                                      Try this one: http://www.marksesl.com/JobBoard/webb...

                                      Get your fill of veggies and real Asian fare.

                                      1. Stripe, I second keg's rec. Its time for you to get up off your ass and go! I grew up in Central California in the 50s and 60s - eating all sorts of cuisines (Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Armenian, Italian, German, Basque, Filipino). But life and food were so limited I left for life and rewarding work outside of the US for the next 35 years. Have worked, lived, and eaten all over Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Had only good times with good people and good food.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Hmmm, tempting. I have certainly traveled to some off the beaten track places, but not quite ready yet to abandon my current life.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            I can't argue with the advice to get up and travel. It sounds like StriperGuy is in a rut. But the fact is that you don't have to go anywhere exotic in order to change your approach to life and food. You can dislodge yourself from your urban environment, where it is indeed a luxury to become bored with the great variety of restaurant meals, and move to a rural community where you grow some of your own food, know a few farmers, make friends with people who are living outside the confines of "normal" society and forget about eating out altogether. You learn to cook really really well if you ever want to eat good food and you become more attuned to things other than the stuff money can buy. I'm not saying it's easy - it isn't - but it isn't any more difficult (or expensive) than to pick yourself up and decide to travel the world for a year or so.

                                            Eat a slab of meat? Yeah, sure, once in a while. But when I'm cooking my own food I've made the decision to do that. The rest of the time you drown in Swiss chard or tomatoes or green beans or eggs - depending on what some neighbour has dropped on your doorstep that day. And the rare time - and I really mean rare - you do go out to eat, it's a joy and a treat. As it should be, in my opinion.

                                            Travel provides experiences you can't get any other way - there's no question about that. You get a perspective on life and food that is extremely valuable if you've always lived in one place. But it's not the only way to fix what appears to be Striper's problem: boredom.

                                            1. re: Nyleve

                                              Oh, one doesn't even have to live the city - I can't imagine that there is any lack of CSA dropoffs in a city like Boston with such a strong intellectual presence. (I live in Montréal, which is not very far away, and another "old city" by north-of-Mexico North American standards).

                                              I'm glad StriperGuy is developing this kind of awareness of what he is eating and how it relates to the world, health etc, but this is a bit contradictory with seeking out the kind of "trendy" restaurants he seems to like. Perhaps as you get a bit older (I may be utterly mistaken, but I'm visualising StriperGuy as a young professional) you'll tend to cook and invite friends over more.

                                              Some of the restaurants we go to - occasionally - have good wine lists - more are byow, as there are many here and we are cheapskates. Few serve much in the way of trendy cocktails. Now I'm thinking of a tiny Vietnamese byow we like - it is run by a young couple who speak little French and less English - their food, while not vegetarian, is very plant-centred - even the nems (little imperial rolls) are served with an array of salad veg and leaves to wrap them in before eating.

                                              And I agree about most "peasant" food. Much of it is heavy, filling and often very fattening for those of us who work on a computer all day. I was attending a north-south conference at which the participants formed cooking teams. The ladies from Senegal and other West African countries made extremely tasty food, but it involved frying large quantities of onions in a sea of cooking oil. Most people in those countries, even those who are not actually peasants, walk for kms each day and expend far more energy than we do (and remember Striper, you and I live in places where it is cold in the winter and we may not feel like being as physically active as we should).

                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                Funny cause I spent some time in Senegal, and most of the dishes were actually pretty healthy. Jolof rice, sort of the national dish of the majority Wolof people, is like a really tasty, veggie laden Paella. Gosh I would go for a bowl of that right now.

                                                I cook A LOT. I entertain a decent amount, but I am a city boy and probably always will be.

                                                I think when I am 70 years old I will still like a cocktail in a bar with some hopefully yummy food.

                                                Is it so out of bizarre to want a nice cocktail, in a funky urban locale, and hope for some veg-oriented fare, the likes of which I cook OFTEN myself, to go with my Aviation cocktail? That is really all I am talking about.

                                                Just to clarify, here in Boston there are SOME places where you can find this:

                                                - East Coast Grill has amazing veg options
                                                - Oleana as well
                                                - Heck even Buff's Pub, one of my favorite local joints, does awesome sauteed veg of the day as a huge, way yummy side
                                                - If I thought of it, I could probably dig up a few more...

                                              2. re: Nyleve

                                                Fully agree. I've stayed in a great suite hotel in these past few years when I've worked in DC. I rarely have gone out to restaurants, but have rather been able to supply good wines, good vibe, and good cocktails - and good dining without slabs of meat to my colleagues. Same as I do here at home. Why people go out to restaurants so much in the US is beyond me. Cooking and entertaining is so easy and so easy to control all the variables.

                                            2. "Use meat as a condiment". Not bad advice.

                                              1. This is why we basically almost never go out to eat anymore. I got tired of saying no this, no that, hold the this, and can I have a doggie bag to take home 3/4 of the meat portion of my entree.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                  Post number Forty five: just order a soup & salad and nice bottle of wine. We go to a local Medd. place, get a few tapas and some fine sherries and call it a night.

                                                2. Striperguy, I'm with you on not often wanting to eat huge portions of meat, but there are options beyond Asian.

                                                  I know you're somewhere in the Boston area, and we have no shortage of Spanish restaurants, including a few very nice ones, where you can get veggie-based tapas to your heart's (and stomach's) content and just one small plate of meat or fish.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. With regard to the whole "American poor people are fat" issue:

                                                    I'm poor. I'm in school and my spouse is a journalist in a small town, so we struggle. A big part of the reason that many poor people are overweight is the price of food. Do you realize how costly it can be to obtain decent vegetables? Something that doesn't come out of a can and therefore actually has taste? Or how about lean meat? In my neighborhood, lean ground beef (93% lean) is twice as expensive as the normal stuff. Fish is only available for special occasions and even then I usually have to buy the frozen kind. I scout religiously for cheap chicken sales and buy in bulk. We eat out only on the rarest of special occasions (our anniversary is coming up, so we're going to try the Indian place that opened up in town, and I cannot wait!)

                                                    Many poor people have limited access to nutritious food. I've tried shopping local farmers' markets in my rural area and the produce costs there are even higher than supermarket prices (and I couldn't find any FMs in this area that accept stamps.) When your food dollar can only stretch so far, you tend to buy the things that stretch the most, like carbs. I grow some of my own veggies in my back yard to help. I freeze what I can to help in the winter. But the average food stamp aid per month is about $220 for a household of four. How far do you really think that goes? How many urban poor do you think have access to backyard gardens?

                                                    I have no argument with the notion that people in the U.S. by and large have poor eating habits. I dislike getting food from the heart-attack-on-a-plate variety of restaurant that dominates my area and I think the usual serving size is ridiculous. However, I think singling out the poor to revile them for being fat is unfair. Believe me, I'd love to be able to afford fresh fruits and veggies for every meal, or frequent amounts of fish and lean protein. I spend more than I can afford to make sure my son gets well-balanced meals that include as many veggies as I can get him to eat. But when the rent or mortgage payment is due, the health insurance premium has increased $100/month over last year, the city has increased the water and sewer bill by 15%, your child's preschool bill is due (you had to send him to a for-profit school because all the Head Start slots were full) and you need to buy gas for the 45-minute commute to the job you were thankful to find after being laid off for a few months, your options are pretty limited.

                                                    I don't mean to be rude. It's just frustrating to hear a criticism like that, feel stung by it, and yet be largely powerless to do anything more to change the situation. When I am out of school and find a job, I will thankfully adopt a healthier lifestyle. I will try not to forget that my healthier lifestyle is in many ways a luxury.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: tonina_mdc

                                                      I'm sorry that my comment offended you. And you're certainly not being rude. But I do think you're reading things in a different way than they were intended.

                                                      Poor diet transcends socioeconomic boundaries and can be found in every culture. I wasn't "singling out the poor" or "reviling" them any more than I was singling out and reviling the rich when I commented that rich people are fat everywhere.

                                                      Most poor people in the world not only lack healthy food options, they lack food. In the US, we have largely managed to eliminate that problem through efficient food production and a variety of governmental programs. That's a good thing. But it's just a first step.

                                                      I totally agree with you that a "healthier lifestyle is in many ways a luxury." And I don't think we should accept that as the status quo. Now that we've figured out how to make sure everybody has enough to eat, it's time to start working on making healthy foods as available and affordable as - no, more available and affordable than - highly-processed junk.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        I appreciate the response. And I am sorry if I took your comments out of context. I am probably adding my ire over every news report about obesity among the poor into my reaction to your original comments, which is completely unfair. Please chalk it up to a bad week and an intemperate, impulsive response.