Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cheese Fight

Let me preface this by saying I rarely get into fights. I'm a lover all about finding peaceful solutions, personally and globally. However, this doesn't mean I stay silent in the face of evil.
Today I went with two friends for lunch in the Hollywood & Highland tourist trap. (Time was short and it was walkable.) We decided to eat at a little spot called the Green Earth Cafe. Makes you think avocado, sprouts and 9-grain bread, right? I enjoy a well-made hippie sandwich, but it turned out this was just a standard sandwich joint run by what appeared to be a family who had recently arrived in the States. Which is also ok.
I ordered the ham & swiss sandwich on a long roll ($5.89 with tax, no pickle), and watched as the lady behind the counter began. She sliced the roll in half and laid down some curly lettuce and bright red tomato slices. Excellent. She carefully layered the ham on top, and then took two solid white squares of cheese and laid them over. They looked like Kraft singles in need of a tan.
"Excuse me," I said in my polite little girl voice, "I asked for Swiss cheese please." The lady looked confused and said, "This is Swiss cheese." She had a strong accent and I thought, she must not know.
"No," I replied, "it isn't. Swiss cheese has holes in it. That looks like American cheese. I don't like American. I'd really like Swiss please."
"This is Swiss cheese," she said again. "May I try it?" I asked. She handed me one of the white squares. It was horrible, gritty with no dairy flavor (let alone a discernable Swiss or American vibe), the kind of cheese that were I alone, I would spit out and look at with disgust. This is the fake food killing the American palate.
However there was a small crowd of customers watching now, and the Mom-lady running the register had wide eyes. The teenage guy (I presumed the son) behind the counter disappeared into the back. My friends looked concerned. I handed the rest of the evil imposter slice back to the sandwich-maker and said, "Look, I'll take cheddar, or whatever else you've got. I just can't eat that cheese."
"We only have Swiss cheese," the lady replied. Then the son reappeared, two bright pink spots on his cheeks and a log of food service cheese held high. "See," he said loudly, brandishing the log before the crowd, "it says 'Swiss.'" I had insulted the family's honor. My face flushed, but I couldn't help myself, "Well, it doesn't look or taste like it." $5.89 is too much to pay for fake Swiss without a fight. I took my sandwich and walked away with my shoulders square.
A few minutes later my friends joined me at the table. "What was that about?" the lithe Frenchman asked as he bit into his sandwich. I used to go to this guy's parties solely for the cheese plate, and I wondered what he would think. He stopped mid-chew and stared into his food.
"This cheese is an outrage."
I love the French. So what is my peaceful solution? It occured to me the owners may never have tried real Swiss cheese. Next weekend I shall return to the dreadful Green Earth Cafe with delicious slices of actual cheese, and I will share them. To hope for better quality might be too ambitious (there's great profit to be had in fake food, sigh) but perhaps they'll understand when the next grumpy eater starts a cheese fight.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

I love your peaceful, hopeful solution. Can't wait to hear all about that, too. Great blog - can't wait to visit again and again...