Eating an Artichoke: Grounds for a Lawsuit?

I read a story this morning that amused me. Last year a doctor from Hollywood, FL ordered grilled artichokes at a Miami restaurant. He then ate those artichokes in their entirety. Now he’s attempting to sue the restaurant. I have questions.

How did he manage to eat the entire artichoke?

As a horticulturist I really appreciate vegetables and fruits. The joy of herbivory involves not just savoring the tastes but also considering the structures and functions of the plant parts being consumed. With an artichoke the parts being consumed are the mass immature florets and the bases of some of the bracts. These parts are soft and supple. The upper part of the bracts protect the developing inflorescence. They are tough, leathery and most definitely not meant for consumption. They’re like little Kevlar bullet-proof vests. Eating the developed bracts with an artichoke would be like eating an egg shell and all. Bad idea.

I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with his dedication or his stupidity.

An artichoke cross-section.

Why didn’t he ask for help?

The texture and taste of the artichoke bracts should have been clear indications they were not edible. I find it hard to believe they could be chewed. In the lawsuit the plaintiff faults the waiter for not explaining proper artichoke consumption. Why didn’t he ask? I’ve never received unsolicited advice about how a food should be consumed at a restaurant, but I have received helpful pointers after asking questions. I might be wrong, but I suspect many people would be offended if a waiter told them how to eat an artichoke.

Why is he failing to accept responsibilty?

Sometimes pain and suffering are self-induced, in those times it is best to learn from mistakes and move on. Putting together a lawsuit is less than ideal. The underlying message in this legal action is: You underestimated how stupid I can be, now pay me for it.

I don’t doubt that he experienced pain and suffering. I’m confident his enjoyment of life decreased significantly until he had the artichoke bracts removed from his digestive system (that must have been unpleasant). What I do doubt is that any court will find the waiter or restaurant liable.

What can we learn from this situation?(Of course we knew all this before reading the story, but it reinforced these points.)

  • People can be less than wise.
  • It is good to ask questions.
  • A dinner that ends with a laparotomy is a bad time.
  • The American legal system has to deal with ridiculously frivolous lawsuits.

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