Sunday, November 25, 2007

Near Death Experinces and Bad Spelling

After last night's show, a bunch of us, as we are often wont to do, went out for a bit to eat or tasty beverage.

I decided to try the Chicken Pita wrap, which sounded generally good. There was a reference to "tabulae" in the description, but everything else sounded delicious: chicken, tzatziki, feta cheese... Yum. I must admit that I felt like a bit of a loser for not knowing exactly what "tabulae" was. Then I realized that those around me didn't seem to know either.

So I asked the waitress about it and she assured me that everyone likes it or, in her own words, "doesn't even notice that it's there". So I went ahead and decided to take a risk on it. Again, she didn't seem to be able to give me a clear description of it, just that everyone seems to like it or doesn't realize it's there.

So my wrap arrived, and it was filled with chicken, tzatziki, feta cheese ... and onions and tomatoes. I wasn't thrilled, truth be told, but figured that's what I get for trusting in the ambiguous nature of this mysterious "tabulae".

Then I took one more bite.

Or tried to.

I chomped down on something in my sandwich. Something hard. Something wooden.

So I pulled it out.

What had I had almost inadvertantly consumed was a four-inch length of bamboo skewer. FOUR-INCHES of skewer which was apparently overlooked. How does one not notice a four-inch piece of wood in a sandwich?

When the lovely waitress returned (and she was lovely, to be sure), I asked, "What exactly is in tabulae?" which she responded, "It's chopped parsley and stuff."

"Are you sure it doesn't mean onions, tomato, and WOOD?"

Now there are a few things which must be addressed regarding this whole adventure.

1. Waitresses are funny.

Since that what they call "tabulae" (see below) is pretty much onions, tomato, and a pinch of parsley, calling it "chopped parsley and stuff" and completely glossing over the tomato and onion content, is sort of like saying, "I had a lovely rosemary dish last night" when you really mean the chicken.

2. Wood in a sandwich gets less reaction than you'd think.

The waitress returned from the kitchen following my near-fatal bite of the wrap, and reported back that the bamboo skewer is just from the way they cook it. At least it wasn't random. REALLY? The chicken skewer was in my food because the chicken was on it? Thank you for that amazing revelation! I had no idea! Again, she was quite lovely, I just found it a curious report to be given. Also to her credit, she did not charge me for the salad and 1/3 of a wrap I'd eaten following the traumatic experience of unexpected tomato, onion, and tree product.

3. "Tabulae" does not exist.

Well, it does, in that it's Latin for "tablet" but that's about it. Having gone online to investigate further, I've discovered that they really mean "tabbouleh", "tabouleh", or maybe even "tabouli". Yes, there are three variant spellings, none of which are "tabulae". I had been intrigued by the word in the first place, since I desperately wanted to pronounce it in the Latin way, but knew that "tabouli" existed (despite not knowing exactly what it was) and figured that's what they'd meant, which they did. Furthermore, having now looked at what it really is, it's a bit of a misnomer for them to be calling what they put in that sandwich "tabouli", no matter the spelling.

On the upside, chick peas made no appearance in my meal, for a change. Whew!


Keltie said...

Chick peas are bad, bad badness, even though their name sounds kind of cute and possibly even adorable.

I'd have made a big old fuss about the wooden skewer. You sounded like you were also lovely about the whole situation, but more sympathy from the establishment would have been nice!

Jerome said...

Well, I didn't make a big fuss, but since I was in need of eating, I was rather sarcastic and ... um ... animated with the whole thing. You know how I get when I haven't eaten...

If nothing else, I drew a rather dramatic cartoon on the table paper of me bleeding from a skewer which was sticking out of my throat.

Misster Kitty said...

I likey me some chick-peas... in Hummus anyway.

Tabbouleh.. LOVE. THE. STUFF.

I make my own actually and it's never gotten a complaint. The thing about store-bought or restaurant Tabbouleh is that there is Good, Bad and Ugly Tabbouleh..

GOOD Tabbouleh will have fresh, bright-ish green parsley. It should be at least 70% parsley. There will be some onion I prefer red onion, a little more tomato (both in small dice) and also contain some chopped mint, some buhlgur wheat, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Lots of salt, pepper, some garlic, and I also add some cumin.

It will have a slight tang and be crisp and refreshing.

BAD Tabbouleh will have old parsley that is dark. and while still edible is not the best.

OR it's almost 1/2 bulgur wheat... or worse... couscous. Not that I have anything against couscous, but it makes for clumpy and mushy tabbouleh.

UGLY Tabbouleh will be less than 25% parsley.

OR have 4 inch pieces of bamboo skewer in it.

Here ends the gospel of Tabbouleh according to Kitty.

Jerome said...

Thank you for your illuminating discourse on Tabbouleh. By your expert standards, then, what I found in my sandwich was most certainly UGLY Tabbouleh, if not HIDEOUS Tabbouleh.

Misster Kitty said...

Indeed, I'd go so far as to say it was tragic on a Dionysus level.

Jerome said...

Oh, what am I saying? It's all irrelevent, since it wasn't Tabbuleh at all! It was, of course, Tabulae! I keep forgetting that!

Misster Kitty said...