Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

social food

The CEO of the company I work for asked me and another employee to come to a lunch meeting to talk to the new VP of something or other about the projects we’re working on. A lunch meeting.

I was immediately annoyed. Why does it always have to revolve around food? Someone’s birthday? Bring cake and ice cream! I’m not as lucky as my friend Kate, the cake and ice cream will never be vegan at work.

I figured I’d just bring my own lunch, because as nice as the thought is that he’d buy us lunch to make up for the fact that we had to meet and talk about work during our lunch, I just wasn’t interested in going through some crap about lunch. I need to eat, I need the fuel, I don’t really care if my CEO buys me a salad or a bag of peanuts or something. I need to eat some real fuel to power my commute home. I now eat at least as much as men twice my size.

So it was a mix of annoyance and dread that I felt at the mention of this work lunch. It is my typical reaction anytime someone brings up food. Unless it is a vegan function, like the gigantic vegan potluck at Poplar Spring every year. With like 300 people…300 vegan dishes. It’s something to experience!

But when my CEO sent a link to the restaurant he was going to order from, it was a Thai restaurant with a very nice vegetarian section. I went with my favorite safe dish. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was – something I could simply order, something I already knew I would like because I adore Thai food, and I get this particular dish a lot. It was the least amount of fuss ever for a team lunch, and gee, all that had to happen was for the CEO to make a thoughtful choice about the type of restaurant. It could have been luck. He knows I’m vegan, though, so it might have been purposeful and thoughtful.

It was good. Not as good as at my favorite Thai restaurant (in my neighborhood), but it was good. And filling. I ate the whole thing.

Food is such a bittersweet thing, now, in social situations.

I would be so much happier if we could break this connection, and socialize at social functions, instead of eating at social functions.

Eating is for meal times. That’s serious business for me.

7 responses to “social food

  1. greentangle October 23, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I know how you feel. I once had an interview where the person mentioned that the department went out for lunch once a month. I immediately felt like I didn’t want the job.

  2. nothoney October 23, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Amen. Every time one of the executive staff has a birthday, I sit in the meeting room and drink my Teeccino and pass on the cake and ice cream. Almost always, one of my colleagues feels compelled to comment on how dreadful it must be to not eat dairy and eggs. I’ve stopped replying and just smirk at them.

    So for the last birthday, about a month ago, the birthday person requested red velvet cake with (this is abomination) chocolate frosting. Damn Yankees. My friend Sue was asked to make it and she asked me for a vegan recipe. She’s not vegan, but she and her husband eat very little carcass and very little dairy and she can make good vegan food. I found a great recipe and gave her the chocolate frosting recipe from VCTOTW.

    The morning of our staff meeting, the cake was passed around and I passed, as usual. It was hard not to grin as all 10 of them raved about the cake and frosting. Best they’d ever had, etc. As the meeting ended, I reached over and cut a slice of cake and at least three colleagues shouted, “No! it’s not vegan!” I laughed and said, “Oh yes it is, I gave Sue the recipe.” Even though they’ve had my vegan treats in the past, they were floored this time. See, if you tell them it’s vegan they automatically believe it’s not going to taste as good as something that includes suffering and death. They say nice things such as, “It’s not bad … for vegan,” etc. But when they don’t know it’s a really gratifying “gotcha.”

    Now, I dread the annual EO holiday luncheon. Dread it. I skipped it the year before last because they decided on Legal Seafood and I won’t go there. Last year they chose some upscale place near Chinatown that I’d never heard of and can’t remember and swore the chef would prepare a vegan dish for me. Well, there was the usual lack of communication between the waiter and the chef and I just wanted to sit and drink wine and be ignored but NO, a big deal was made, the chef came to my table and told me what he had in mind, I clearly had the best dish at the table. And the best dessert. But it’s a pain in the ass and I’d rather not go through it so I’m calling in sick this year. Cowardly, but less painful.


  3. Deb October 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    greentangle, that would be my reaction too! These issues make me really long for the ability to work from home. Unfortunately I have never had a job where it was allowed at all. Big bummer.

    sheryl, that cracks me up about the red velvet cake! Anytime you want to make one, by the way, I’ve never had one. :p At least after the big fusses for your annual holiday luncheon you ended up with a nice meal. Last year for our annual dinner, we went to maggiano’s, where my CEO assured me they could accommodate my veganness. It was AWFUL. And “in keeping with tradition” they’re going there again this year. Luckily for me, I’ve got a family vacation pre-planned for the weekend he said it was going to be. And even if I’ve misremembered the date, I’ve already put the idea in his mind that I’ll be out of town, so I can use that excuse regardless whether it is strictly accurate.

    And the thing about these “social’ holiday dinners, I find them excruciatingly boring and tedious, even aside from the actual food issues.

    Why not go somewhere to play pool and darts and have a beer or iced tea or whatever? At least then we’d have a chance to talk, instead of mumbling awkwardly around forkfuls of mediocre food.

  4. nothoney October 24, 2008 at 7:32 am

    I agree! But my colleagues in the executive office think that a holiday lunch should be fancy and shit. Please. I’d rather sit around a dive bar with a decent juke box pretending I can shoot pool. As it is, the only people you can talk to are the ones sitting near you – the rest of the table is too far away. I admire your plan for skipping this year’s dreaded event. Thing is, if I call in sick after they’ve made special arrangements for me, I’ll be scalped when I come back to work. ::sigh::

    Y’know, I was thinking of making the red velvet cake for the potluck because it’s festive. I haven’t found a great vegan version of the traditional cooked frosting so I make vegan cream cheese frosting.


  5. Deb October 24, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I absolutely hate those huge tables! It is always so dreadful.

    The red velvet cake at the potluck would probably go in five seconds flat! I’m sure it would be a huge hit. Just let me get a taste before you put it out, as I’m sure I’d never get to it in time otherwise! 😀

  6. bex November 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    sounds a bit like my work functions although the last few have been pretty good. First meeting: I ate lots of lettuce and drank lots of water, pretty much the only vegan things in sight. My manager was having none of that and ever since I have been getting really good food. Hell other people have been eating my food because they don’t label it as vegan, it’s just another dish but I just politely ask what is vegan and they light up saying something like “we made this for you, grilled veggies with balsamic reduction and there is also a quinoa pilaf.” I never get dessert but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I make enough desserts for myself and they always serve highly butt enhancing things.

  7. Deb November 3, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Your manager sounds awesome!

    And so does that food.

    The next monthly team lunch is coming up, and we had a vote of eating in or eating out. I voted for eating in, because at least then with the unworkable restaurants they choose, I can end up with a salad. But eating out? Forget it.

    I have a feeling everyone will vote for eating out. As usual, no on is even trying to see if they’ll be able to do anything for me.

    Oh, wait, they’ll get me a salad, I’m sure. I love salads, but it is already becoming an excuse for them to disregard me. They can get whatever they want, and hey, I can get a salad.

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