In the Mall of Georgia (which is actually in Georgia, but outside Atlanta proper), Sarah and I found ourselves trying to catch a quick bite to eat in stripmall-land.
Me: Hm, let’s go see if there’s anything edible at the food court….Uh oh, "Buddha Express". What are the odds they serve something the Buddha would never eat?
Buddha Express server: Hello, what can I get for you?
As my eyes glance over the tiny stands with the names of each dish, the true horror begins to sink in…."Buddha Beef" is a definately non-vegetarian dish placed right next to another one called "Buddha chicken". As I stood staring, Sarah very nearly had to tell me to shut my mouth.
Me: Is that real beef?
The server pulled out a plate and grabbed a spoonful of the Buddha beef. "Would you like to try some?
Me: It’s real beef? It’s not fake meat?
Server: Yes, would you like some?
I sensed that she thought I was some sort of ignorant xenophobe, that I was implying that it was some other kind of meat, dog perhaps. Something that a racist jackass might do in a food court in Georgia. On my side of the sneeze shield, my mind was swirling with just what the Buddha would think about his name being marketed to sell meat, sort of like putting the Pope’s photo on a condom with the slogan, "Since every sperm is sacred, don’t waste a single one on some ho using birth control!"
As we continued on through the food court, another employee lobbied me to take some of their szechuan chicken, offering it to me on a toothpick. As I ate it, I found myself chewing….and chewing, and chewing….no napkin, no way to spit it out. I finally swallowed it and swore I wouldn’t be eating there, thankful for the taste that kept me from ordering the food.
Do you think they hand out enough samples and see people choose not to eat there to realize it’s the food?