The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Radicchio: WHYYY? (Aka "Salad Rage"), I originally wrote this post on November 6. Until now, it existed only as a Gmail draft. Similar to how I felt about my sandwich rage post, I thought this came off as too crazy-sounding and ill-composed to be worth unleashing onto the Internet. Also, I hadn't thought of a good way to illustrate the effects of the salad that you will soon read about. But tonight, over two months later, I whipped up an illustration. So here you go.

Last night I had a great dinner with Nick, Melissa, and James at Diner. It was great, aside from the gassy burger hangover I felt for the rest of the night, and mild face and throat swelling in reaction to an allergy I didn't know I had.

But that's not the topic of this post. Nope. It's. RADICCHIO. Subtitle: "OH GOD, WHY."

tricolore salad
No, salad, noooooooooooooooo.

So. Although I rarely eat salads, I always get a salad at Diner because they're generally awesome. I've expressed this a few times. Farm fresh greens, eggs, bacon, pickles—some combination of this gets tossed together and coated in the appropriate amount of an appropriate dressing, the ingredients changing with the seasons. Last night's salad was a tricolore salad featuring radicchio, something green, soft boiled egg, and some sort of white beans dressed in an anchovy vinaigrette (can't find the description online; you'll just have to trust my untrustworthy memory). Although I knew I didn't like radicchio, I thought, "Eeeh there's a bunch of other good stuff in it! And these salads are always good! I'll go for it. Also, I'm really hungry after waiting an hour outside for a table."

I had rarely been so excited to dig into a pile of leafy vegetables. So I dug.

And then.

I'm really honing my "distressed head with a protruding brain"-drawing skills here. ...Thanks for being a part of my artistic growth.

The radicchio. One bite into those veiny purple poison-infused leaves gave me the sensation that the outermost layer of my brain was turning itself inside out. I know that doesn't make any sense—does the brain have an outer layer?—but I totally envisioned the outside of my brainlump slowly peeling off like flaccid, slimy chicken skin (completely with that "ffwwwsssshh" sound effect), rolling over itself, shriveling up, then dying.

My reaction may be a smidge overdramatic. By a factor of about 10,000. But that's what I thought at the moment of radicchio bitterness coursing through my neurons, or whatever sends those messages. My other thought: "How the hell does anyone enjoy this? It's. Like. [insert retching sound]"

But obviously, people do like it. Also, I ate most of the salad because, hell, I paid for it, and I WAS GOING TO ENJOY IT, even if I didn't enjoy it (PARADOX the way this is what I found while Googling "paradox salad"). I didn't want to admit that my good salad streak had been broken. But it had been very much broken. Beaten. Shoved into a trash can of questionable integrity, left to roll down a rocky hill for about as long as it takes to sing the Benny Hill theme song (because that's the song I'd play to accompany this scene, of course...okay, maybe just a minute of this song, I'm not sure how much of it I can take), landing with a powerful splash into a rocky lake of daggery-cold water, later to be discovered by a pack of rabid, malnourished raccoons wielding mallets embedded with jagged rocks.

Actually, I shouldn't say it wasn't a good salad, just one I didn't enjoy. My reaction to bitter foods is on par with that of a toddler's, except with more intense disgust. One sip of black coffee or red wine can cause my face to contort in ways usually reserved for cartoon characters. Obviously most other humans have grown to appreciate the flavor of such things, which makes me wonder if I'm tasting something different from everyone else, or if everyone else has just learned to deal with stuff tasting like poison.

In conclusion, I have to remember to never eat anything with raw radicchio in it again. Lesson learned. The green vegetable in the salad was also noxiously bitter, although a bit less so than the radicchio. I feel completely stupid for not being able to recognize it—it looks like baby spinach in the photo, but it tasted far too bitter to be baby spinach, unless it was specially bred to have concentrated evil. One of you guys could probably tell me what it is.

cheeseburger innnards

The burger was goddamn satisfying as always. Thank you, dear old burger. You are an exemplary member of the ground beef patty-centric sandwich family, with your copious beef juices and funky beefy flavors blessed with a good hit of sodium.

85 Broadway, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map)


Sofia / January 17, 2011 2:08 AM

wow, who knew such bitter herbs could cause so much pain?! at least your descriptions cracked me up... something good out of a painful experience? :) bloghumor and creative juices that encourage graphic creations aren't all bad, no?

anyway, despite your radicchio run-in, i still really want to go to diner, more so than before. it's been on my restaurant must-eat-stat list for a couple months, but it may have to move to the top, if not for the salad (i actually do like bitter foods, though) than at least for everything else listed on their fabulous menu. yummm.

Jitterro / January 17, 2011 2:36 AM

Oh Robyn, you poor supertaster :(

As a regular taster who nonetheless has difficulty handling black coffee and finds almost all tea bitter no matter how well it's steeped, I can sympathize.

I think I might feel similarly about radicchio, though not as strongly. Mixed greens are still my favorite kind of salad, however.

By the way, I've noticed from following you on Twitter that you occasionally make chiptunes. What do you use to make them, just out of curiosity?

roboppy / January 17, 2011 11:15 AM

Sofia: I'm alright with the pain if I can turn it into FUNNY DOODLES, YAAY!

You should totally check out Diner, although ...don't go on a Friday night like I did, or else you may wait foreverrr. Next time I go I will probably still get a salad. Unless it has radicchio.


I use LSDJ for chiptunes stuff. Not that I've actually made a song on it in like...over a year. Oops. :( There's a part at the bottom of the page where you can donate money to download the ROM. Definitely worth more than the suggested $2 donation. I also have a cartridge, but I think mine broke or, much easier to use on the computer anyway.

Su-Lin: Yup, I am super tasting my way to dooooom. I've had radicchio before and didn't emerge with brain peel-y feelings; I wonder what was so bad about this time!

janet / January 17, 2011 12:57 PM

I have a similarly strong feeling about frisée, though not about its taste, which is relatively innocuous. But because it looks like a green that's gone INSANE. And also it's ridiculously difficult to eat w/o getting random frisee tentacles getting dressing everywhere. That burger looks amaaaaazing. I think Diner should be on my to-visit list next time I'm in the city of the apple.

Mikey / January 17, 2011 3:08 PM

Well, Robyn, this is the first time your blog made me not want to eat stuff. Ever again. Sooooooo... well done...?

Nicholas / January 17, 2011 3:39 PM

SALAD FAIL. If it's any consolation/positive spin on the experience, Diner's burger was one of the best I had in the past year! Thanks for introducing me to juice-laden burger goodness.

PS - this is why I skip vegetables and salads. They are teh evil... pretending to be healthy, but really just sheering off layers of your brain apparently.

roboppy / January 17, 2011 9:56 PM

Janet: Yess let's do Diner next time you're here! COME BAAACK.


Nick: Yay, I'm glad I got your approval! No brain sheering for you.

jesi / January 18, 2011 12:39 AM

oh im so sorry you had such a crappy salad experience! and i was so excited for you [even despite the post title, i am an eternal optimist/idiot] when i read about the egg and beans... salad with egg and garbanzo beans [plus sunflower seeds and black olives and drenched in multiple dressings] was my favorite food ever in college. bitter greens are such a no-no. why why why when theres spinach and sweet baby lettuces? i feel your pain. i wish you better salads in the future.

roboppy / January 19, 2011 11:32 PM

Jesi: IT SOUNDED SO GOOD WHEN THE WAITER DESCRIBED IT TO MEEE (sob). Greens that taste like poison probably don't want to be eaten.

idlehouse: Thanks for trying to ID the veg! I don't know why I couldn't tell what it was. Or maybe my brain was too shaken by the radicchio to think correctly..hmph.

Julaine / January 20, 2011 2:37 PM

Arugula. Definitely arugula by the leaf shape and the bitter taste you describe. So don't eat any more arugula.

roboppy / January 20, 2011 2:58 PM

Julaine: Oh yeah, it does look like arugula...thanks for pointing that out! I wouldn't have thought that because I usually like arugula, whether in salads, on pizza (well, mostly on pizza), or in sandwiches. The bitterness isn't usually so noxious. I wonder what was wrong with this one. :(

Vanessa / January 23, 2011 3:46 PM

If it wasnt arugala (which sometimes can be bitter) you might have been eating watercress.... Looks like I see a piece of the stem there. And sometimes watercress can be pretty bitter. So I guess broccoli rabe is out on your list of veggies not to eat too?

roboppy / January 27, 2011 11:25 AM

Vanessa: I've had watercress before, and I can't say this looked or tasted like watercress. I've never had a problem with broccoli rabe either. Maybe this salad was just...uniquely super bitter... :\

Naomi / February 4, 2011 2:24 PM

You must have a different set of tastebuds calibrated to cause pain when you eat salad, just like other people taste soap when they eat cilantro.

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