#3 with mayo and no pickles, please…

I don’t like pickles. I know they are essential part of the American culture and should be celebrated and appreciated but I truly fail to see what’s the big deal about them or why should I accept them, for example, as an unavoidable ingredient in my hamburger.

I always ask for “no pickles” when I order a hamburger and more than once I’ve received a suspicious look in response, like something must be wrong with me and my ignorant taste buds. Thank God the Fast Food culture has us accustomed to the possibility of customizing our food; from adding favorite toppings that are not even part of the recipe to removing anything you don’t like about the meal. You could even order a plain hamburger with no meat and you would get just a bun… that’s how it works… whatever you want, the guys will prepare for you, many questions would be asked and a lot of judging and mocking would be involved, but you’ll get exactly what you want.

At least that’s what I thought America was all about… until the other day when I visited a restaurant and the waiter came to the table to take my order. “I’ll have the Blue Cheese Hamburger but no blue cheese, please”, I requested. “So, you want a regular hamburger”, the server said. “No, I like everything about the Blue Cheese Hamburger, minus the blue cheese; the taste is too strong…”. “Sorry, but I can’t substitute the cheese”. “No, no substitution… just leave it out”. “Sorry, no. We have a No-Substitution policy and I can’t change any recipe in the menu”.

I think some good 23 seconds passed with me looking at the server, mouth opened, trying to process the message. I felt that my rights as a customer, and a foodie, were being violated and a little rage started bubbling deep inside my empty gut… Hunger rage is the worst kind of rage because you’re not yourself when you’re hungry and you can easily lose control of your temper and limbs, and potentially hurt someone.

“Can I ask why?”, finally concocting a full, although short, sentence. “Our Chef produced all the recipes in the menu himself and he says that if any ingredient is replaced or missing the dish won’t taste right; at least not as he intended it to be”.

My natural reaction was a loud and embarrassingly high-pitched “Ha!”.

I ordered the Blue Cheese Hamburger anyway and it was delicious… it had the right amount of blue cheese so the taste was not overwhelming or too salty.

I learned my lesson… you don’t argue with a Chef if he or she says “No substitutions”. You gotta respect the craft, and the artist behind it.

Of course, this whole event got me thinking: where else in life am I trying to do “substitutions”? And the answer is: FREAKING EVERYWHERE!

So many times a day I start sentences with: Why don’t you…?, or If you could just…, or I wish it was…, and some other ways of rejecting things or people or ideas for what they are and trying to adapt them to my way.


But then, how to adopt a No-Substitution Policy into life? How to live a life without demanding change from everyone around us, or without letting people change us if it goes against who we truly are?

The word that immediately comes to mind when I think on the opposite behavior is “Acceptance”. Acceptance doesn’t mean I will agree with absolutely everything that happens around me, nor means I will be best buddies with all. Sometimes Acceptance means agreement; other times means to receive something or someone as adequate, and some other times could mean to just tolerate an unpleasant situation or person.

Truth is, if I demand change from my loved ones around me – say husband, kids, family, friends – I’d be changing their ‘recipe’ and they won’t be who they want to be, at least not around me; I’d be missing out on some amazing life experiences and learnings these people have to show me and I would never get to know them for the wonderful things that make them who they are.

So, food-wise, I’ll continue to order my hamburger with no pickles but in life, on my road to Acceptance, I plan to stop and listen, meditate, understand, respect, embrace. Seems much easier than trying to change recipes…


Virginia Victorio
  1. Sonia

    Very interesting… always trying to change other peoples “recipes”, maybe if we don’t we will realize that there are other good “flavors” and that we are missing out on good relations. I like pickles…


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