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"Fresh Vegetable Medley"


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Anyone out there have thoughts yea, or likely nay, on the restaurant anathema of the fresh vegetable medley?

This is likely not a tidbit of culinary kitsch that confronts the palates of upscale cosmopolites. But, if you ever descend to the lower 48 where the "rest of us" live and join guys like me at one of the reputedly (note, reputedly) finer dining establishments in hellholes like Greenville, I dare you to ask your server Traci or Todd what vegetable is on the menu that evening. For, 365 nights a year, you will be told "fresh vegetable medley," and it will always be sauteed-to-a-pulp zucchini, yellow squash, maybe two carrot coins, and a coupla strips of red bell pepper.

Uch, the "fresh vegetable medley." Right up there with Southwestern Chicken Salad, Bale of Onyums and the Stuffed Potato Soup. It's the diet that sharpens Middle America's neural receptors to crackle synaptically only at the voices of Rush Limbaugh and Toby Keith.

I had late lunch yesterday on my way back from Charlotte at one of a roadside chain named Fatz, and along with my puny strip of rainbow trout, they slid in, unrequested, fresh vegetable medley. Now you know why I am so cranky.

Edited by Rabbi Ribeye (log)

"A worm that lives in a horseradish thinks it's sweet because it's never lived inside an apple." - My Mother

"Don't grow up to be an educated idiot." - My Father

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A sadder but healthier Ribeye ... :rolleyes:

The limp, flaccid, barely drained vegetable medley to which you, most perceptively, refer is very much in evidence on plates of southeastern origin ....

no doubt a remnant of "meat and three" which resembles nothing so much as overcooked pantyliners .... :laugh:

only thing even more annoying? a bunch of poorly trimmed, barely cooked (and I don't mean ad dente here) broccoli, replete with the obligatory yellowing buds .. sulphurous and chewy but hardly appetizing ... :raz:

Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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To me, the worst is just a 'vegetable medley' and those vegetables were frozen. Broccoli cooked to mush, cauliflower, carrot coins, and sometimes green beans. Frozen carrots and green beans are intolerable. No amount of butter can save them.

Stop Family Violence

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To me, the worst is just a 'vegetable medley' and those vegetables were frozen. Broccoli cooked to mush, cauliflower, carrot coins, and sometimes green beans. Frozen carrots and green beans are intolerable. No amount of butter can save them.

Are you implying that use of the term "fresh" is an insult to our intelligence? :rolleyes:

Now I am truly horrified .... you have dashed my illusions upon the sharp rocks of reality .... :laugh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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The limp, flaccid, barely drained vegetable medley to which you, most perceptively, refer

It actually constitutes the base of my most popular soup: Creme du Cialis Potage ...

makes those veggies stand up and be counted, as it were ... :unsure:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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To me, the worst is just a 'vegetable medley' and those vegetables were frozen. Broccoli cooked to mush, cauliflower, carrot coins, and sometimes green beans. Frozen carrots and green beans are intolerable. No amount of butter can save them.

Nasty! they're oddly hard, yet squish with retained water when you bite down. If I see that on the menu, I usually try to get a salad substitute instead.

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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The limp, flaccid, barely drained vegetable medley to which you, most perceptively, refer

It actually constitutes the base of my most popular soup: Creme du Cialis Potage ...

makes those veggies stand up and be counted, as it were ... :unsure:

:blink:

For 36 hours?

:wink:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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The limp, flaccid, barely drained vegetable medley to which you, most perceptively, refer

It actually constitutes the base of my most popular soup: Creme du Cialis Potage ...

makes those veggies stand up and be counted, as it were ... :unsure:

:blink:

For 36 hours?

:wink:

So they claim .... :unsure:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Right on...nothing's worse than sitting down to a meal where ZERO thought has gone into the sides. There's a "nice" restaurant in my hometown that serves really amazing well-cooked meats: elk steaks, alligator sausage, etc....what do they put with every single friggin' entree...that's right our "friend" limp, frozen, overcooked vegetable medley and twice baked potatoes. I think what's worse is that most people there really do think this is fine dining.

UGH!!

SML

"When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!" --Ralph Wiggum

"I don't support the black arts: magic, fortune telling and oriental cookery." --Flanders

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I was thinking last night, actually, that standard American cooking just has NO vegetable tradition at ALL. Not meaning to hijack the thread, but when people say that, since I'm eating low-carb, I must be eating no vegetables, I just giggle. The fact is, I eat tons more vegetables than I did before, because I've had to learn how to fill out the part of the plate that used to belong to starch. And I've discovered all kinds of great things to do with vegetables that I never knew about. My mother certainly never gave me pureed or roasted cauliflower. And Union Square Cafe may serve zucchini and tomato hash, but I sure haven't seen anything like it at any lower-end restaurant. So why do we tend to do so badly by vegetables?

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Oh, Rabbi, you're just not into the subtleties of the vegetable medley.

I have in front of me an advertisement from Nation's Restaurant News for a brand called FLAV-R-PAC and their Grande Classics Gourmet Vegetables. Believe me, you gotta have good eyes to tell these 11 blends apart (well, 9, actually, one is just bias-cut carrots and another just whole green beans). You certainly couldn't tell from the names:

  • NEW! Key West Blend: whole green beans, bias-cut carrot, red pepper strips, and something that looks like carrots but is yellow;
  • NEW! Malibu blend: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, bias-cut carrots, and those yellow things;
  • Asian Blend: broccoli florets, red pepper strips, green pepper strips, whole green beans, mushroom slices, and onion slices;
  • Caribbean Blend: broccoli florets, red pepper strips, whole green beans, and those yellow things;
  • Sicilian Blend: red pepper strips, whole green beans, bias-cut carrot, yellow pepper strips, and cauliflower florets;
  • Normandy Blend: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, bias-cut carrots, bias-cut zucchini, and bias-cut yellow squash;
  • Cantonese Blend: broccoli florets, mushroom slices, red pepper strips, baby carrots (!), snowpeas (!!), and sliced water chestnuts (!!!);
  • Riviera Blend: whole green beans, whole yellow beans, baby carrots;
  • Mediterranean Blend: those yellow things, red pepper chunks, quartered artichoke hearts, asparagus tips and stems, and what looks like it might be a few leaves of spinach.

You can see how I did that list with a LOT of cut-and-paste. I defy anyone to figure out what is so Norman about broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and squash. Oh, and the Riviera Blend is shown plated with barbecue-sauced ribs. :huh:

Among the advertising enticements are:

  • Profitable, SteamTable-Sized, No-Waste, Resealable Zip Packaging.
  • Consistently outperforms fresh.
  • Bold, High-Profit Plate Coverage.
  • Exciting Signature Presentations.

America, do you know where your vegetables are?

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My favorite thing about being in Japan is how everybody goes nuts about whatever veg is just coming into season...the anticipation builds up...the first of the crop is sighted in shops, and eagerly reported to friends, lush photos all over the mags, and then it's HERE!!! and we start getting all excited about the next thing. The current thing is juicy, slightly loose-hearted spring cabbage (just put THAT in a medley and smoke it, then).

My "vegetable side" hate list here starts and ends with shredded cabbage, the traditional accompaniment to crumbed, fried pork. Great if shredded and served immediately. Not great when prepared by the bucketful early in the morning and left to dry out...

Isn't the vegetable medley the adult metamorphosis of the student stirfry?

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Oh, and the Riviera Blend is shown plated with barbecue-sauced ribs.

. . . and not even the integrity to call it by its proper name, Mayberry Blend.

BTW, If you ever had the distinction (?) of eating at Lester Maddox's Pickrick, alav ha-sholom, you'd have gotten you're goddam-hippie-pinko head bashed in with one of his ax handles if you had called the "and three" (as in "meat and three") a "fresh vegetable medley." Trust me on this one.

"A worm that lives in a horseradish thinks it's sweet because it's never lived inside an apple." - My Mother

"Don't grow up to be an educated idiot." - My Father

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I don't know - in the South we have a tradition of overcooked vegetables with lots and lots of bacon grease or fatback. However, I still think this is the best way to eat collard greens...

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For, 365 nights a year, you will be told "fresh vegetable medley," and it will always be sauteed-to-a-pulp zucchini, yellow squash, maybe two carrot coins, and a coupla strips of red bell pepper.

The California version of this-not in "real" restaurants, mind you, just the rubber chicken business luncheon meals-is the same vegetables but almost RAW. The boneless, skinless chicken breast has been cooked until no moisture remains, the mashed potatoes are cold, and the vegetables are still raw. I always wonder just how they manage that, all on one plate. For a finale, the dessert is cloyingly sweet.

Sigh, just once I'd like to have a decent lunch at one of these events. Today I had a soggy fried chicken cutlet and penne that was so al dente that it was almost crunchy. I saw them setting out the food an hour and a half before we ate it. I have to wonder if they poured the uncooked pasta straight out of the bag & simply steamed it for an hour and a half. (I skipped the veggies-but yes, they were there.)

Edited by marie-louise (log)
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I defy anyone to figure out what is so Norman about broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and squash.

According to the Norpac web site, Normandy Bl(a)nd is "A vibrant, deliciously satisfying blend of broccoli, cauliflower, sliced carrots, sliced zucchini and sliced yellow squash. It is a blend extraordinaire!" See, it's extraordinaire, like in French!

[*]Bold, High-Profit Plate Coverage.

I think this is going to be my new favorite phrase, at least for a week. See, I think we're working under a misconception here. As a diner, you think, there's vegetables on the plate, it must be part of the meal, it's food, I should eat it. But no, it's not food, it's plate coverage. It's just there so that the plate doesn't show through.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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[*]Consistently outperforms fresh.

HOW?!?! In plate coverage? Cost-effectiveness? General customer dissatisfaction? Nastiness? I want to know!!!

SML

BTW-Great find Suzanne!

"When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!" --Ralph Wiggum

"I don't support the black arts: magic, fortune telling and oriental cookery." --Flanders

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I was thinking last night, actually, that standard American cooking just has NO vegetable tradition at ALL.

I would have to disagree with this. My mother's generation grew up serving two or more vegetables with every cooked meal, she followed this custom, and I still do.

Clearly this tradition has generally been lost if the current perception is that it never existed. When did this happen?

And I have never been served the "fresh vegetable medley" in the title of this thread, although I have been served many overcooked vegetables while traveling in the Southeast. Is it regional (ie, not served in the Northeast), or is it only served in the expensive type of restaurant I never eat in?

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s it only served in the expensive type of restaurant I never eat in?

Well, as far as the "fresh" sauteed variety, a few brief observations:

. . . It is extremely dicey (he said, double entendredly) to saute yellow squash into anything but a clod of seedy wet goo, especially for a crowd.

. . . In 32 years in the rabbinate, I have been served fresh vegetable medley at 99.83% of the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and weddings at which I have officiated. The three exceptions were my own kids.

. . . As recently as last Saturday night, we brought visiting friends to one of our more favorite bistros in Greenville, Brick Street Cafe. We asked Claude to identify the evening vegetable and he announced with such arrogant, lispingly effeminate aplomb, "fresh vegetable medley, of course." Of course.

Now, the cafe did redeem itself, for I asked if the chef (cook?) had some spinach in back. Claude checked and responded in the affirmative. To my surprise and delight, it came out lightly sauteed and highly garlicked, not ala Popeye. Hence, if you are condemned to a visit to Greenville, Brick Street Cafe is still on my recommended list.

"A worm that lives in a horseradish thinks it's sweet because it's never lived inside an apple." - My Mother

"Don't grow up to be an educated idiot." - My Father

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[*]Consistently outperforms fresh.

Wonderful phrase which immediately brought to mind the image of rows of animated vegetables -- fresh, frozen, and canned -- lined up and ready to do a pole vault. Guess which team wins? :rolleyes:

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Uch, the "fresh vegetable medley." Right up there with Southwestern Chicken Salad, Bale of Onyums and the Stuffed Potato Soup. It's the diet that sharpens Middle America's neural receptors to crackle synaptically only at the voices of Rush Limbaugh and Toby Keith.

*lmao* @ this!!!

very well put.

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Ugh, I've just lost my appetite thinking about this. I grew up eating gobs of stir-fried Chinese veggies, so the vegetable medley, as far as I'm concerned, has absolutely no connection to anything resembling real vegetables.

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Ugh, I've just lost my appetite thinking about this. I grew up eating gobs of stir-fried Chinese veggies, so the vegetable medley, as far as I'm concerned, has absolutely no connection to anything resembling real vegetables.

Just be very happy that you are living in the Bay Area and not living in the south .... trust me on this, vegetables just aren't accorded the respect they should be down here in Dixie ... hopefully, overcooked is a "alternate lifestyle" and we're right in the heart of this... rather eat a boll weevil infested cotton ball as the "fresh vegetable medley" .. oxymoron, no?? :raz:

As someone who has enjoyed, no, actually reveled in, the crisp, fresh organic produce in your area, I can tell you that you ought to wake up each day and thank the deity of your choice for really well made vegetables ... and may you never see what the alternative is ..... :unsure:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I was thinking last night, actually, that standard American cooking just has NO vegetable tradition at ALL.

I would have to disagree with this. My mother's generation grew up serving two or more vegetables with every cooked meal,

Oh, I didn't mean that vegetables weren't served, I meant that in my experience they have tended to be badly prepared, clearly an afterthought, a nutritional sop that was not really intended to actually taste good, but was there merely to apease the nutrition police.

Growing up, we always had a couple of vegetables at dinner. One of them was always salad -- torn-up Boston lettuce dressed with oil and vinegar shaken up in an old jelly jar. Not bad, but in no way delicious. The other vegetable dish was frequently canned Le Seur peas, which my mother still loves (and which still make me retch). As a treat we would have Stouffer's frozen spinach souffle (my mom's other favorite). Frozen corn, frozen "french cut" green beans, and frozen broccoli made occasional appearances. They ranged from edible to disgusting. Vegetables were always on the plate (and always eaten) as a form of obligation; there was never any sense that with a little care and labor, they could be really delicious. As a result, the first time I tasted fresh peas dressed with melted butter and lightly boiled cabbage (ditto) I thoroughly embarrassed myself.

Anyway, that sense of the Obligatory Vegetable is something I have long gotten used to in American cooking, both in restaurants and at other people's dining tables (and, until recently, at my own).

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