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The Lycopene Reaction


Upon entering, freshly prepared salads with names like Crunchy Island Pineapple and Won Ton Chicken Happiness say hello. Next, colorful and neat piles of yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, waffle cut zucchinis, beets, mushrooms and garbanzo beans wave and jump on your plate. Add a drizzle of olive oil, some red wine vinegar and a dash or two of freshly ground pepper and you have a salad that the dinner salads you make at home only wish they could be. Around the corner, hearty soups, cheesy, buttery breads and moist muffins await to round out your meal. With so much variety and delectableness to be had, how could anyone not like Sweet Tomatoes?

Tonight, when Alan and I began our 1 hour nightly debate, otherwise known as deciding what to eat for dinner, I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to introduce him to one of my favorite restaurants and get him to eat some vegetables. When we got there, I went first in line so that I could demonstrate to him proper salad construction, first building the foundation with a layer of spinach, then layering on the different goods. I made it a point to stop at the tomatoes to encourage him to load up on them for their blessed lycopene.

Halfway through the salad building line, I turned around to see if Alan was following my lead and the most pitiful, saddest excuse of a salad looked back up at me from his tray. His salad was comprised of about 7 leaves of spinach, one cherry tomato, two slices of cucumber and three tiny mushroom shavings. From nowhere, the voice of my mother came out of my mouth and I could hear it saying to him, “We aren’t paying $20 to have you eat like Oliver Twist! I said put some tomatoes on there!”

So he joylessly put a few more tomatoes on and threw 3 kidney beans on top of that, which I figured was an improvement so I didn’t say anything else. Then he sat down with his face so long it practically was on his plate and began eating his salad like I was making him eat the remnants of his pet turtle (if he had one). Slowly, he picked something up with his fork and put it in his mouth, something that must have been filled with a combination of arsenic, vinegar and mayonnaise from the terrible, pained looked on his face.

“Gross,” he said, with a look that said a small animal had just relieved itself on his plate. “I’m not eating any more of those.”

I looked to see what the offending vegetable was and it wasn’t anything truly gross — like peas. No, it was just a small, harmless, lycopene-filled cherry tomato.

Last modified: January 10, 2019