I'm all for adventurous eating. Monkfish liver? Love it. Trippa alla romana? Bring it on. A quivering mass of bone marrow, sprinkled with sea salt? Butter. Of. The gods. In fact, whenever I see something I don't recognize on a menu, I'm hell bent on trying it.
Which is why I can sympathize with Arturo Carvajal, a Miami doctor who is suing Houston's Restaurant for "pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, [and] loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life," after having to be hospitalized after ingesting a grilled artichoke special, leaves and all. Carjaval says his waiter should have told him that the tough outer leaves were inedible. While one can snicker that someone — a doctor, no less — wouldn't know how to eat an artichoke, I think some context is needed here.
I grew up in Miami, and as hard as it is to believe, a fresh grilled artichoke there can be as exotic to some folks there as deep fried fish bones in New York City. Especially for someone like Carjaval, who had never had an artichoke, and thought it was "like a food he might have eaten in his native Cuba, where you eat everything on the plate," according to his lawyer.
That said, suing a restaurant for neglecting to provide instruction on how to eat it is ridiculous. Are restaurants supposed to calculate the potential ignorance of every diner and advise them accordingly? And if so, who's to decide what's common knowledge and what needs to be explained? It's a slippery slope. Obviously, common sense should reign, but restaurants shouldn't be held responsible for a diner's choices.
CLARISSA CRUZ is the Fashion Features Editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the former Style Editor of People magazine and has written for Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Food & Wine, and Budget Travel. @clarissanyc1