Vegetarian Surprised by Seafood Medley

March 27, 2011

in Food & Drink Stories

I’d been backpacking for two weeks all up and down the East Coast of Australia. I spent the entire day on a boat going out to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling, and then coming back to this little island near the mainland. It was a day in the sun all day long, a lot of physical activity, and no real food. I didn’t really eat the day before because I was too hungover from my last night in Cairns – Australia’s answer to Daytona Beach during Spring Break.

I was knackered on the ride back from the Reef. On the way up I was all over the place. I spent most of the journey on the sun deck with my CDs, watching the boat travel over the endless miles of water. On the way back though, I sat inside and watched the movie they were playing on the television monitors. By the time Meet the Parents was over, we were almost at Magnetic Island, my stop for the night. With this reef deal I booked, I also got three nights on Magnetic Island in a hostel. The whole dive/hostel package was only seventy dollars American. Unbelievable!

Because of my less than filling express lunch, I was starved when I got to the hostel. The island is small, but the one and only grocery store is on the other side of it and it’s too far to go by foot. Most people here hire Mokies, these little supercharged golf carts that you can go off-roading with. The Mokie rental place is closed at this evening hour so they’re not an option. The Mokies are stick anyways and I’ve never driven stick. I guess this is the best place to learn, but not right now.

I walk along the little ten-store boardwalk promenade by the ocean and see an Italian restaurant. I’m starving at this point. The countless meals of macaroni and grilled cheese sandwiches are taking their toll. The special of the day is spaghetti with marinara sauce. That sounds good to me and it looks like it’s about the only vegetarian choice. The food doesn’t come out quick enough and when it does, I’m in horror. I look up at the Specials of the Day sign and reread it. Okay, I didn’t notice that “Seafood Medley” is written in small print under “marinara sauce.” The spaghetti is doused with shrimp, little clams or something and then these things that I don’t even know what. They have tentacles and they look like the creatures that hang out in that seedy cantina bar at the beginning of Star Wars.

I don’t like chicken or beef, but I do like the smell. However I hate everything about seafood, especially if it isn’t fried, especially if it’s in-between my mouth and my only real meal of the week. I scrape all the sauce over to the side and just eat the noodles. The smell is bad enough. I have to concentrate real hard not to gag, or worse. I chew the bite slowly and the only thing I can taste is tentacle. I shower the spaghetti with salt and pepper and try again. It tastes like crap, but at least it doesn’t taste like seafood. I turn my nose off and eat the bites as quickly as possible, washing each bite down with Coke. Normally I’d just not eat the dish, but I’m seriously cramping because of malnutrition. This plate of salt and pepper should help.

I pick at the spaghetti furthest from the mound of sauce but not too close to the bottom where the smelly clam water had collected. As I twirl my fork, I watch the individual pieces of spaghetti getting dragged across the shrimp and over the suction cups of the mystery animal. This is the second time I’ve had to eat around meat on this trip. When we were at the Sail Club in Surfers Paradise, my penne with pesto came with chicken chunks in it. I ate around those with little problem. This, however, is a completely different deal. I eat as much as I can which is just enough to stop the cramps in my stomach. First thing tomorrow I’m finding that damn grocery store and I’m buying three days worth of food. If any of my friends back home could see this, they’d be laughing their asses off.

Signed- Brian Easley
My blog: Straight Guy in the Queer Skies

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

FuckMyTable March 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Maybe you should ASK about vegetarian options instead of just assuming when placing your order. Or you could have sent it back. Contrary to popular belief, most servers will NOT spit in your food, and would inform management if they saw someone else do it. Learn to be an adult, please.

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FuckMyTable March 28, 2011 at 12:46 am

Upon re-reading I've discovered that you are not female as I assumed. I only assumed since you're so goddamn picky and were creeped out by some unidentified thing with suckers. (Probably octopus or squid, by the way.) Also, women are typically the kind who will pick at their food and move things they don't like off to the side instead of just saying something to the server. Man up.

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@KravVegan April 20, 2011 at 8:38 am

Piss. Off.

I regularly ate sushi before going vegan.

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Rumpot May 3, 2015 at 11:18 am

Generalise, much? What an ass.

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ninjadragonfly March 28, 2011 at 12:29 am

Um..I am weary of seafood, too…..I like some of it…but not all of it….especially in remote places….and uh on the plane……not so much
I think next time you should ask for bacon……or maybe crocodile……bacon we KNOW is good….Crocodile probably/ maybe is….but it is at least one less thing to kill you in the water….
You are part of the food chain, now…..lol

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FuckMyTable March 28, 2011 at 12:44 am

You dropped your dots.

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Substantial September 7, 2011 at 3:40 am

If you think Cairns is a "remote place" you need your friggin' head read.

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Howdy March 28, 2011 at 4:02 am

I am confused. Why did I have to slog through Brian's travel blog to get to the few sentences that explain that his dinner fail was his fault?

Dude – if your vacation was OMG!AMAZING!ALLINTEWEBSMUSTKNOW! then thank your lucky stars.

You are obviously a verbose young man so may I suggest you pull a few words out of your arsenal and say, politely, to your server "Excuse me miss/sir, but I didn't realize this had seafood on it. May I please exchange it for pasta with just sauce?"

You would be surprised how fast your "dinner from hell" turned into a delicious meal you could enjoy.

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Julie March 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Amen!

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aaron March 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

90% of this story had nothing to do with Dinners from Hell.

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Peace Lover March 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

I would very much like to visit the east side of Australia particularly Noosa. And I share the same feelings about seafood, the day I eat anything that has tentacles or can still stare back at me is the day I get pain a large sum of money to do it!

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Chloe March 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

Im confused, I am from Australia (and also a veggie) and I have never seen a marinara sauce that did not contain seafood?

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Chloe March 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

ah ok, according to wiki it seems to be an australian thing to always have seafood in a marinara sauce.
Still, use your grown up words to let your server know there is a problem!

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Jane March 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Also, outside Australia a marinara has seafood. Ff sake Brian, a vegetarian should know that.

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MsJake July 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Actually, it's an Italian thing to have seafood in anything called marinara. In the Stated, a marinara sauce is usually just plain red sauce though.

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Kara March 20, 2012 at 6:37 am

"Actually, it's an Italian thing to have seafood in anything called marinara" Since when? This is news to me.

But, yeah, here in america "marinara" should not freaking contain seafood or anything of the sort nor anything else sketchy….we expect it be a delicious seafood-free red sauce thing that we eat with/on spaghetti or used as a dip for our mozzarella sticks or on pizza and as a dipping sauce for pizza and breadsticks, ect. My dad is allergic to seafood so I'm glad they don't pull that crap here in the states. I agree with Howdy though, OP should've spoken up and simply asked if they could make the marinara the US way or asked for something else to eat or just paid and left, then went somewhere else to eat….someplace that didn't serve such "exotic" foods. Hell, how hard is it to google for "vegetarian food in place x" or whatever? Heh.

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Cozmo June 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Why on earth would anywhere else in the world do what you do "here in America"? This guy WASN'T IN AMERICA. News flash – things will be different. That's why people travel – to experience something different. If you don't think that applies to food, then I wouldn't set foot outside your door.

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Jack Ziegler March 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Brian, just forget about eating out. You simply are not a food person. You are picky to the point of being annoying.

Your story was much too long, and really had little to do with a Dinner From Hell.

Don't give up your day job.

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Bennett March 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I feel for you sport. As a vegetarian and a traveler, I understand the quandary you found yourself in – starvation or eating slimy sea critters. You did what you had to do under the circumstances.

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Julie March 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm

No, he didn’t speak up and say “I’m a vegi please don’t serve me meat”
I have lots of food allgeries and by God I speak up and ask questions-if they can’t remove something I always have a back up meal ready.
Why don’t you grow some and ask questions?????

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Jane March 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

2 decades of being a vegetarian and traveling quite a bit around the world have taught me to ALWAYS ask if meats or seafood are used on a dish. If you are not satisfied with the answer, don't order it. If you screw it up, don't whine like a baby. It was clearly your fault.
You give vegetarians a bad name by whining.

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Irritated by OP March 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm

How is your lack of reading comprehension a "Dinner from Hell" when it really should be "Uneducated Reader from Hell"?

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sashathebrit March 30, 2011 at 9:11 am

Yeah, I really want to punch him in the face now.

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Bennett March 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Sasha,

I think you need some anger management counseling.

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Hugh April 4, 2011 at 5:39 am

100% YOUR FAULT. As you mentioned, it said seafood medley. The fact that you failed to read it removes all fault from the restaurant.

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Kara March 20, 2012 at 6:43 am

The OP mentioned that the seafood medley part was in small letters. So really this is a case of both customer AND staff being stupid. OP shouldn't have skimmed over the entry and staff should've made it MORE CLEAR that the marinara was a seafood dish (unless the entire place had a nautical theme going on or something – then yeah totally the OP fault for being so stupid as to try to order something "simple veg" from a place where most of the dishs are seafood) Putting things in small letters was just a dumb move on the staff's part

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Substantial April 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I guess the meal just wasn't bland enough for him. Next time he should just stick with the boiled tofu 🙂

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Rachel May 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm

There is a LOT this guy could have done to avoid that. In the first place–it is SO frustrating to servers to have people who can't read the goddamn menu, order crap, then act all surprised that they 'didn't get what they ordered'. Beyond frustrating…I just don't understand how people can order crap and not know what is in it. Seriously, how do you not care enough about what you are going to eat to not bother reading a couple sentences that explain what the dish is? I can't comprehend it. Maybe I'm OCD, but whenever I've got the money to eat out, I am all over that menu, finding exactly what I want. And I'm not even a fussy eater.

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Rachel May 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm

In the second place–no one is responsible for maintaining your vegetarian diet but you. How can you be a serious vegetarian if you don't even read a menu to make sure that no meat comes with a meal? I understand. I am Jewish. No one is responsible for maintaining my kashrus diet but me. It is my job to ask if any pig product gets mixed into a certain sauce, exc. It is my job to read the full description of an entree to make sure there is no shrimp in it. It is my job to ask for no cheese on a meat meal. It is not the waiters job to intuitively know that my religion's dietary rules and telling me how to get a meal that (roughly) follows them. You can't be a vegetarian (or at least, a serious one), if you take no responsibility for your own diet.

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AgentDragonfly September 7, 2011 at 4:02 am

Good one, Substantial……Completely nailed what the blog post was about……and also…..pretty much everyone was commenting about how remote Cairns is…..

You freaking Tard…..of course it is a MAJOR city in Australia…..but guess how many people actually know Australian geography?

Get a room……

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Substantial February 26, 2012 at 5:12 am

Not all foreigners are as ignorant of geography as you are, dearie, but I admire your frankness in your confession of being an ignorant twat. To give credit though, I guess that most people would have trouble pointing to your home town, a major city by the name of Buffalo Pubes Indiana, on a map so there ya go 🙂

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GeezPeople August 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Think about it, Marinara, marina, mariner, marineland. the roots are the same for a reason.
Origin of MARINARA
Italian (alla) marinara, literally, in sailor style
First Known Use: 1948
And also why the Marines are under the department of the Navy.
…just sayin'

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Amber May 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

This sounds more like customer fails then diner from hell. They advertised their special as a seafood medley, you failed to read the full name and description of said special, ordered it and don't get to be upset that it came out as described. Servers will never know you don't want meat if you don't speak the F up. Ask about meatless dishes, ask if you can get the meal without the meat, but do not whine that you ordered something that comes with meat and it came with meat.

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Guest February 5, 2017 at 3:40 am

Marinara is a seafood sauce -so why would anyone mention it had seafood in it?

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