I went to Noodles & Company with my mouth ready for zucchini noodles. It was supposed to be the perfect ending to a busy day-the usual, including an attempted shakedown by the Illinois Tollway. I was prepared to bust their operation wide open including a full expose until I was able to talk to a sensible employee and close the account.
Once inside, I took a few minutes to make my selection because I hadn’t been to Noodles since I’d moved from the northwest side of town. The move had been cleansing, placing a period on a hard-earned lesson in my life.
I seem to remember some flavor I’d been fond of back then: spicy peanut or something like that. Well, they must have switched that out for something else, because I didn’t see anything close to it. The sauces were always on point, but I was really here for the zucchini. That’s right, you could swap out the pasta noodles for zucchini. A vescatarian dream come true.
I vacillated between the Penne Rosa and the Spicy Korean Beef (I would have had tofu instead of beef). I decided on the Penne Rosa, thinking I could add tofu to that. I walked up to the counter and placed my order.
“Hey, do we have any more zucchini?” The cashier asked one of the noodle technicians. (Sorry, I don’t know their official titles).
My heart pounded. Do we have anymore zucchini?! What do you mean?!
The noodle tech turned to the cashier, then looked at me as if she was deciding on my zucchini worthiness. After a few beats, she said, “Nope, we ran out.”
The cashier turned back to me, “Well, you know, it’s National Zucchini Day. But we should have more tomorrow.”
Tomorrow? I’m here now. My shoulders slumped as I expelled air, then a dash of hoped perked me up. “What about whole wheat noodles? Do you guys have whole wheat noodles?”
The cashier and the noodle tech shook their heads, “No, we don’t sell those.”
So, there it is folks. Clearly, I had not been to Noodles & Co. in quite a while, and possibly my mind was playing tricks on me.
I forced smile. “I’ll take the noodles.”
As I waited for my dine-in order, I thought about the root of my frustration. Yes, I was disappointed that I couldn’t have the healthy meal I planned on. But it was more than that.
Another girl bought my food to me, and I sprinkled some kind of hot seasoning on my pasta.
It was simply this-healthy food has been made so accessible, that when I can’t get it, disbelief intensifies that disappointment. It is such a vescatarian’s world, that I took it for granted that healthy alternative are available for customers. And technically, they did-they just ran out.
The good part about it is that one plate of noodles won’t kill me, and my food was every bit as satisfying as I remember. The other part of it is that it reinforces what I already know-more and more people are choosing healthy. That’s why they ran out. So if I had to go without my anticipated zucchini noodles this one time, then I guess that wasn’t a real problem.
There’s always tomorrow.
Til We Eat Again