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Column: Janey Lee Grace on the doggy bag debate

PUBLISHED: 14:08 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:22 20 February 2013

Janey narrowly avoids a domestic in public thanks to a blatant book plugging opportunity

IT won't have escaped your notice that we're all in belt tightening mode in the throws of a 'credit crunch' and this is one time when the wartime spirit of being thrifty and canny with food really comes into its own. Getting the plug in right away, my new book Imperfectly Natural Home has loads of suggestions for sourcing locally grown organic food and saving money in the process.
Recently though it has been leading to marital strife in my life, as I'm one for squirreling away all manner of leftovers so that I can re-use them into interesting meals. Of course I then forget and find sad little bits of curled up food in little containers in the fridge three weeks later.
It all nearly culminated in a spat last week when we treated ourselves to a lovely meal at The Wellington in Old Welwyn. It has been one of our favourite haunts for a while but recently I think they must have got a new chef because the menu is just fabulous.
Hubby and I decided to order a bunch of vegetarian starters and one main course and share them all. I particularly liked the sound of a beetroot stack with goats cheese ice cream (yes really!) on a bed of rocket, and the excellent goats cheese with roasted red pepper salad while he fancied one of the specials, the parmesan coated bean cakes. He thought that would be enough, but I really also wanted to try the Greek salad, so we ordered all four dishes.
It was a mountain of food and there was no way we could get through it all. We devoured the beetroot thingy with ice cream (surprisingly perfect) and the bean cakes went down a treat but the red pepper salad was hard going and we barely touched the Greek salad, which was a great shame as it was divine.
As the table groaned and it became obvious that we simply weren't going to be able to eat it all, I suggested to my husband that we ask for a doggy bag to take the Greek salad - almost untouched - home to eat later. He was mortified, 'No way', he declared indignantly, 'are we going to ask for a doggy bag, we are not that desperate.' He also declared 'It won't taste the same at home, meals in a restaurant are all about the ambience and the conversation.'
I saw it completely differently. 'I think the chef would be absolutely flattered if I said I loved his Greek salad so much I wanted to finish it at home', I said, equally indignant.
The woman at the next table suddenly overheard our conversation and interrupted politely. I thought she was going to side with me and say she regularly asked for doggy bags but what she actually said was, 'Do you mind me asking, is that a magnetic bracelet you're wearing, because I've heard they can really help with back pain?'
Now the one thing that was going to divert me from the point in hand was another opportunity for yet more blatant plugging of my book - I am passionate about this stuff in case you hadn't noticed. I steamed in and told her all about my writings which, as luck would have it, contain loads of info on magnatherapy.
As I was deep in conversation enthusiastically singing the praises of therapeutic jewellery my husband was busting his gut to finish the Greek Salad - so determined was he that I would not embarrass him by asking to take it home.
As he held his belly and hobbled to the door under the weight of way too much food - loosening his belt as all around affected by the credit crunch were tightening theirs - the woman quipped, 'You should think about buying one for your husband, he looks as though he's in agony.'


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