• Carmen Marie Fabio

Green and mean


Along with my husband and son, I stopped in at a little restaurant in Ste. Anne de Bellevue for a quick bite to eat recently before heading into Montreal to attend a lecture.

While placing our order to the nice young lady at the counter, I uttered the same refrain I’ve said countless times in my life whilst ordering food, “No green pepper.”

“Not unless you want to see fireworks,” added my husband over my shoulder.

I grew up in a large family and am not terribly fussy. I like vegetables. Even the ones that have a reputation for being inedible. I have an amazing recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts with a maple balsamic glaze. And I once made a turnip crumble – don’t laugh – with a sharp cheddar topping that even the kids liked.

Anything I’m not terribly fond of – like bean sprouts or water chestnuts – can be either picked out or, in a pinch, grudgingly accepted and ingested.

But I draw the line at green pepper. No amount of cheese, bread crumbs, seasonings, or hell, even alcohol, can make that loathsome vegetable palatable. I refuse to even eat pizza if the green pepper has been picked off as it inevitably leaves a telltale slime trail of green pepper flavour behind.

It’s a good thing my suspicious nature led me to peek under the lettuce and tomato on my submarine sandwich because sure enough, there amongst the sautéed steak, pepperoni, onion, and mushrooms, were these slimy green interlopers tainting the food I had just paid for.

“There’s green pepper on it,” I hissed as my husband flinched and cringed, and my son put a protective arm around his slice of cheese and pepperoni pizza.

Hubby went back to the counter and though I didn’t hear what he said to our server, I saw the look of horror as her hands rose to her flushing cheeks. “I forgot!” she called out to me. “I’m so sorry!”

Normally I would have accepted the cook’s offer to make me a new sandwich but because we were in a hurry, I said I would pick the peppers out. If you’re still reading at this point it can only be because you hate the little green abominations as much as I do. Suffice to say the melted cheese was hanging on to those bits of pepper for dear life and eradicating the aforementioned slime trail was an exercise in futility.

I was able to salvage some of my husband’s poutine while he ate the offending sandwich.

“Would it kill you?” he asked, apparently feeling brave.

“Possibly,” I answered.

Though he forgets, about 20 years ago we drove to Toronto to visit a friend for the weekend. We had just parked on a side street near his apartment and were unloading the trunk when an elderly man was passing on the sidewalk, his arms laden with plastic grocery bags. I had just placed my duffle bag on the road behind the car when, in my peripheral vision, I saw two legs fly out horizontally and heard a startled cry as the man hit the ground. Running to help him up and collect his purchases, he assured us he was okay, more startled than anything else.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I slipped,” he said and as we all turned to see what he had slipped on, sure enough, it was a vile, rotten green pepper that for reasons unexplained, was lying on the sidewalk, proving that not only is their taste disgusting and utterly unpalatable, they are also spiteful and do indeed have the potential to kill you.

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