Identifying food by color

It started as a joke about “purple drank,” but this is ridiculous.

The “sandwich line” at the cafeteria of my place of work is overall well-equipped. A variety of delicious (sounding, not always looking) ingredients awaits us hungry lunch-goers each day. Though the selection is varied, my choice is generally the same each time I visit: garlic wrap, smoked turkey, swiss cheese, green pepper, onion, tomato. It’s simple and delicious. 

Ordering said meal is not so simple. First, in order to receive actual Swiss cheese, I must ask for “Big Eye Swiss.” I’m not sure what that means, but if I just say “Swiss,” I get some mysterious white cheese slapped on my tortilla. Though not a cheese connosseiur by any means, I’m unaware of any variety of Swiss cheese that comes without holes. To me, asking for Swiss cheese with holes is like asking for a pizza with crust: it’s a given. But I’ve since learned to adapt.

When in Rome…

So imagine my delight when the cafeteria introduced a “hot sandwich line:” flatbreads topped with your choice of ingredients, then toasted in an oven. Delicious! And “Swiss cheese” was listed as an ingredient! When I took a closer look at the cheese offerings, I was delighted to find that it was the Swiss cheese I’ve loved my entire life: just plain, whitish cheese avec holes. Brilliant! Perfect, until today…

I should have known something was amiss when I heard the Sandwich Lady ask someone in line ahead of me if he wanted “White or yellow cheese.” It always makes me cringe when others identify food by color. It implies that the food product is devoid of any actual distinguishing taste and that the only difference between the choices is its (usually) unnatural color. But I heard another in line ask specifically for Swiss cheese on his sandwich, and I sighed with relief. 

When it came for my turn, I put in my order: flatbread, turkey, swiss (Hey, I know what I like and stick with it. Don’t hate). Not until I got further in line did I realize that there were, in fact, two available cheese: one was yellow, the other was white. Cheddar? American? Provolone? Swiss? Who knew? As far as Sandwich Lady was concerned, it was Yellow and White. No additional adjective necessary. I hung my head, reluctantly accepting my sandwich into a to-go container and shuffled back to my building. 

For the record, the cheese they slapped on my sandwich was not Swiss. I actually have no idea what sort of cheese it was, other than White. My sandwich tasted horribly. I forced myself to take 3 or 4 bites, then gave up.


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