If the universe honors intentions rather than outcomes – I’m in the clear. But if outcomes are more important than well-meaning ideas – I’m screwed.
A few years ago my friends, The Burgh Babes, and I went to Manhattan for a weekend. Since we’d be splitting up and doing different things while there, we wanted to at least share one nice meal together. I checked out Tavern On The Green for Sunday brunch, only to discover that omelets ran twenty-one dollars and a yogurt parfait would set us back ten bucks. I was getting discouraged until I had a flash of brilliance. The Natural Gourmet Institute hosts Friday night dinners in their Chelsea location. For the bargain price of $32.00 (tip and tax included) you can enjoy a healthy, yet delicious, four-course meal. And bonus, the school was located only one block away from a comedy club that we had tickets for that evening.
How cool was I? Good food that’s good for us, great for our wallets and close to our secondary destination for the night. I made the reservations and smugly noted to myself how smart and fabulous I was. I should have splurged on the overpriced eggs.
Health Foods Sometimes Backfire
The menu included cannelloni bean soup; an arugula, artichoke, fennel and orange salad; Italian style eggplant stuffed with more beans, corn and whole grains; fried polenta; finished with fresh figs wrapped in phylo dough and smothered in an almond cream and port wine sauce. After all four courses and a few bottles of wine, we left and hit the comedy club. Two-hours later we emerged into the dark night of mid-town Manhattan and headed for the subway. That’s when the real fun began.
New York is a city of smells. Sewer fumes plume upward and out from manholes to mix with curbside garbage covered in dog urine that decorates every side street. Vendors selling incense along with New Yorkers wearing too much cologne assault your olfactory center at every turn. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING prepared us for the revolt our gastrointestinal tract was going to lead against the healthier than thou food we had consumed. Smells that I have never experienced before began to emerge from our behinds.
At first we thought it was the sewer smell, then we realized it was us. You could see the folks on the V train, wrinkling up their noses in disgust. NYU students in large crowds parted like The Red Sea as we walked by. People everywhere began to stare and point. Our stench had taken over the Village and frankly it hasn’t been the same since.
I’ve smelled beer farts, singed hair, and changed the diapers of small children suffering from the stomach flu, but I’ve never in my entire life smelled anything like I did that night in New York. Seven friends with flatulence sharing 800 square feet is a bad idea no matter how you slice it…the cheese that is.
The fun continued the next day. We walked along the crowded streets of China Town tooting and scooting past kiosks of fake designer handbags and watches, leaving a silent but deadly stench in our wake. And when our meal finally made it thought our lower intestines, it cleaned us out like a coffee enema after a week on the cabbage diet.
Okay, Okay – I’m Sorry
Did I mention how much money we saved? Did anyone thank me for clearing out their colon? Not a chance. They eventually forgave me and I haven’t been asked to make dinner reservations since. I meant well. Really I did.
An edited version of this article was previously published in November 2004.