I have been in the vortex of a writers’ conference in Boston for the last four days. The press of people – almost twelve thousand of them – along with the myriad opportunities for panels, readings and perusing hundreds upon hundreds of book fair tables was daunting! Starting at nine in the morning until late into the evening, it was easy to gorge oneself on all things literary. Good food for the mind (and, in several cases, for the soul) was in abundance. But it was a huge challenge to find good food for the stomach.
Lines were long, and people impatient, wherever a fruit cup, bagel, or prepackaged sandwich could be found. The first day, amidst the five panels and two book fair halls I attempted to attend, I stood in line for 20 minutes at a fast food kiosk just to get a piece of smoked turkey, a sliver of unidentifiable cheese and a limp cellophane-like strip of lettuce, slapped into a bun, soggy with a weirdly sweet red sauce, into my hands, and then unceremoniously into my mouth while on a descending escalator. I am not one to eat on the run, nor to stuff my face, but that is exactly what I did, dropping a significant piece of turkey on the step in front of me. Hands full, I could not retrieve it, and instead mumbled an apologetic, “Oops” to my fellow riders and watched it chiffonade in the blades of the escalator’s base as I disembarked. Needless to say, I avoided eye contact with anyone as I scurried to my next session.
I felt like I had eaten a rock, the aftertaste of the sandwich, pasty and bitter in my mouth. And then I said to myself, “No! I will not sacrifice my stomach for literary inspiration!” How could I be inspired when I wasn’t sure if and when I might let out a belch of digestion rebellion – or even something worse! – while listening to a dramatic poetry recitation?
My salvation came in a little salad place, situated conveniently near the entrance to the conference center. “Tossed” How lovely the name, with its delectable menu selection of salads (as well as wraps and sandwiches … but I wasn’t interested in carbs … I wanted lettuce and crunchy veggies). Also, you can design your own salad from a variety of lettuces and an array of vegetables, meats and dressings, which I thought was a wonderful option for all us creative types attending the conference.
But for dinner that evening I let Tossed offer up their creative genius and ordered their Signature Tuna Salad: a large scoop of tuna mixed with just the right combination of dried cranberries, apples and mayo, served on top of super fresh baby greens, carrots, cucumbers and half of a perfectly ripe avocado, all tossed in a tasty dill dressing. After the turkey-rock-thing, I can’t tell you how delicious it tasted. My friend and I decided that Tossed would be our go-to place for the conference, and it was … the caveat: we had to time our visits before or after the mad, meal rush that inevitably happen when thousands of people’s hunger clocks are ringing simultaneously.
Yes, I was in Boston, and yes, I did indulge in one of the city’s famous “lobster rolls” … and creamy clam chowder … and luscious lobster bisque. Come on, I am a foodie! Foodies don’t pass up a region’s specialties no matter how busy their schedules are. But I wanted to give a shout out to the little salad place that offers big, fresh flavors and who saved me from digestion coma.
For a “Tossed” near you, visit: http://www.tossed.com
Eat well. Be happy.