Diner: no one warned me how to eat artichoke leaves

by Walter Olson on November 5, 2010

A customer unfamiliar with the vegetable ordered the grilled artichoke special at a North Miami Beach restaurant, and says the server should have warned that you’re not supposed to eat the fibrous, indigestible upper mass of the leaves, just the heart and pulpy bottom portion. He’s suing. [Matthew Heller, OnPoint News] More: Above the Law.

{ 22 comments }

1 bob lipton 11.05.10 at 10:35 am

Hey, I broke a tooth trying to eat the bone of my steak. Gimme money.

Bob

2 Supremecourtjester 11.05.10 at 1:28 pm

What part of “choke” didn’t he understand?

3 mojo 11.05.10 at 2:05 pm

Get that man some un-shelled prawns, stat!

4 John Burgess 11.05.10 at 2:50 pm

And keep him the hell away from crabs and lobster! I’m not sure he’d be safe with a clam or oyster, come to think of it.

5 Jim Collins 11.05.10 at 2:56 pm

Plastic spork, no plastic knife.

6 bob lipton 11.05.10 at 4:27 pm

You can stab yourself with a spork. Gruel only, and no spoon. You could put out an eye with tht thing.

Bob

7 ras 11.05.10 at 6:57 pm

And who is responsible for explaining to this man how to swallow his pride? Clearly not his lawyer!

8 John Burgess 11.05.10 at 9:05 pm

No, his lawyer doesn’t want to be liable when the guy chokes on the pride.

9 Ps 11.06.10 at 4:58 am

Give him some fugu and see how he handles it.

10 David Schwartz 11.06.10 at 7:35 pm

Clearly there was no obligation to explain to the customer how to eat artichokes. The law only, at most, requires a food item to be served in the manner a reasonable customer would expect given the food’s description. It was, in this case.

He would perhaps have an argument if either he had asked how to eat the artichoke and the server had refused to help. He might also have an argument if the server had seen him eating the artichoke improperly and dangerously and not offered to correct or assist him.

The article seems to suggest that the legal theory is that if the food is potentially dangerous if eaten incorrectly, the server has an obligation to explain this to the customer. That’s obviously wrong — comically so.

11 bob lipton 11.06.10 at 9:14 pm

I like artichokes and have no idea how one would go about eating them ‘dangerously.’

Bob

12 David Schwartz 11.06.10 at 9:51 pm

Bob Lipton: Eating the upper portions of the outer leaves is dangerous. They are not digestible and can cause intestinal blockages. A properly-prepared grilled artichoke will contain the full outer leaves. Only the soft portion of the bottom inside of those leaves is edible.

There are other ways that an artichoke can be dangerous too, but they all involve improper preparation.

13 kimsch 11.06.10 at 11:19 pm

He didn’t notice that it was really hard to chew the tough portion? He didn’t notice the sharp little “tooth” at the tip of the leaves? He still swallowed all that?

If I come across woody asparagus, that part that’s hard to chew comes out and is placed on the plate, just like bones would be if they were found in fish.

14 John Burgess 11.07.10 at 12:46 pm

Wait! You mean fish have bones? OMG!

15 bob lipton 11.07.10 at 4:16 pm

Dave Schwartz,

Well, i’ve noticed that aou artichoke leaves. I just can’t imagine anyone not. “Gosh, this feels like chewing wood. I guess I’ll just swallow”.

Huh?

Bob

16 Peter 11.08.10 at 5:10 am

So do I eat the shells of my clams casino, or not?

17 Frank 11.08.10 at 9:55 am

Yes to all of the sophisticates herer, it seems the fellow is a rube and seemingly a dolt.

I showed the story to a friend and he stated that he wouldn’t know how to eat an artichoke nor that certain parts were inedible.

Do we assume that a vegetable is inedible, indeed dangerous because parts of it are tough and chewy?

I’m not saying the restaurant should be liable, just that the diner shouldn’t be seen as somehow stupid because he picked up and ate prepared food that was served to him.

When is that last time any of us asked “How do you eat this”?

18 Jay 11.08.10 at 11:03 am

@Frank: I ask “How do I eat this?” whenever I run into an unfamiliar food that either looks like it might require a bit more handling than “insert in mouth and chew” or if it’s been confirmed when I try to eat something that looks straightforward. I’ve never been served crab legs or lobster, for example, and would have no problem asking the proper method to eat them. I think the last time I specifically asked was at a crawfish boil.

The bottom line for me is that years of eating has taught me that it’s not worth struggling with an unchewable piece of food. If it’s a part that should clearly be chewable, I’ll send it back if I’m not the one that prepared it wrong in the first place.

19 Bill Alexander 11.08.10 at 11:45 am

“When is that last time any of us asked “How do you eat this”?”

That would be about 6 months ago when a new Vietnamese restaurant opened locally. Even if it is obvious that the item is all edible (such as all liquid) it may be meant as a garnishment or as a separate item.

20 David Schwartz 11.08.10 at 1:33 pm

Bob Lipton: Think about it from the point of view of someone who had no idea how to eat a grilled artichoke. You might not even notice the small, soft portion at the inside, bottom of each leaf. That would leave you to conclude that either the entire leaf portion was inedible or that the entire leaf portion was edible.

21 Paul 11.08.10 at 2:15 pm

A couple of weeks ago on “The Next Iron Chef”, the judges were upset that a banana peel was not meant to be eaten. If food critics and master chefs don’t know that a banana peel isn’t edible, then I think there’s a lot of attitude in this comment thread that isn’t really warranted. I’m upset he’s even allowed to bring a lawsuit like this, and I wish it would cost him lots of money as a punishment. But one chef on the show indicated that putting inedible things on a place went out in 1985, and so it was understandable that a food critic would bite into a banana peel without realizing it shouldn’t be eaten. If those snobs can be clueless about how to eat food…

22 MF 11.09.10 at 8:25 pm

How about the person who is given a finger bowl in order to wash one’s hands? To the uninformed (which might very well have been me), one might have thought it was a soup to be consumed. I know that if I don’t know what something is, I’m certainly going to ask before I eat it!

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