Is a decent portion too much to ask?

Aasma Day
Aasma Day
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Aasma is not one for nouvelle cuisine when it comes to dishing up veggies.

“Eat up all your greens”.

Chips and vegetables at The Craster Arms, Beadnell.

Chips and vegetables at The Craster Arms, Beadnell.

Most of us remember being taught the importance of eating up all our veg.

As a result, we understand the integral part vegetables play in mealtimes – hence the phrase “meat and two veg”.

Which is why one of my pet peeves when dining out is stinginess with veg.

Cutting back on carrots, rationing the runner beans and pruning the peas are all cardinal sins when serving up a meal in my book.

With vegetables relatively cheap and the emphasis on eating our five-a-day, why do some eateries insist on being so miserly with them?

I was reminded of my bugbear the other day when some friends told us about dining at an Italian restaurant they had never been to before.

They both ordered a main course of chicken in a peppercorn and brandy sauce which, although tasty, did not come with even enough vegetables for one. “It was a shame” said my friend. “There was all this lovely sauce, but we ended up leaving most of it as we had hardly any veg or potatoes to soak it up with.”

There was a time when I would have done as my friends and smiled and replied “Yes thank you” when asked by the waiter if everything was alright with my meal.

But as I have grown older, my waistline might have expanded, but my tolerance has shrunk and penny-pinching with veg is just not acceptable.

“You should have asked for more veg!” I declared to our friends. “Or smiled sweetly and asked if they’d forgotten to bring out the other dish of vegetables from the kitchen as surely this tiny portion isn’t meant for two?”

Failing all else, my advice was to ask for a straw to suck up the remaining sauce or hold out my bowl Oliver Twist style and beg: “Please sir, can I have some more veg?”

Worse still than the restaurants which skimp on the veg are those which turn them into a money- grabbing scheme.

I am talking of course about those that cleverly charge one price for a main meal and then sneakily set a separate price for side orders of vegetables and potatoes.

Vegetables are PART of a meal not an added extra like alloy wheels or metallic paint!

When buying a car, are you asked to pay extra if you want a steering wheel or a handbrake? No. So why should we pay separately for different components of a main course?

If I am paying £20 odd pounds for a steak, I begrudge having to fork out another £2.50 for vegetables. In fact, why do you have to pay extra for a steak sauce at most restaurants? That is part of the meal and should come within the price. After all, when ordering a beef stroganoff, you don’t get a pile of beef on your plate and told: “Sorry, it’s extra if you want the sauce.”

Then there are the dining establishments that think the less veg they serve up, the posher they are.

These are fine dining places, or those that like to think they are, which put far more thought into how the food looks on a plate than whether it is going to satisfy the person who’s eating it. Do posh people not like veg?

I remember at one restaurant laughingly pointing out what I thought was a typo when I saw battered fish came served with “chip and carrot”.

“They’ve left off the s’s!” I chuckled to Hubby. “They mean chips and carrots of course!” I wasn’t laughing when my food arrived. My fish was balanced prettily on ONE chip – granted a rather fat one – and garnished with ONE single piece of carrot. I almost had to stop off at the chippie on the way home.

Another of veg stinginess gripes is when instead of the veg coming actually dished up on your plate or placed in a bowl on the table for you to help yourself from, the waiter or waitress hovers at your side and serves it onto your plate.

This isn’t bad when they give you a decent portion. But more often than not, the amount they put on is economical and you feel greedy saying: “Can you put some more potatoes on please?”

And then why, when there is a tiny bit of veg left in the dish after they’ve served you, do they insist on taking it back to the kitchen instead of putting it on the table for you to top up your plate as needed?

What do they do with all the leftover veg? Collect it all and then put it in another bowl and serve it up to some unsuspecting diners?

So come on restauranteurs, help us live longer and healthier lives by giving us a decent bit of veg!

With so much vegetable tighfistedness going on, instead of coaxing my children to eat their greens, I usually hiss: “Quick! Eat your broccoli before the waitress takes it away!”

All I can say is, it must be tough being a vegetarian.