Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks
October 4, 2017 10:25 AM   Subscribe

 
I want to eat the olives. Olives are delicious.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:32 AM on October 4 [13 favorites]


Despite the promises of the name, it can be a challenge to find actual olives at Olive Garden. The omission is intentional, though the irony is not. It's a simple matter of marketing: People don't like olives. They don't know what to do with them.

....Some people don't know a blessing when it falls into their laps.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Nobody wants garlic hummus.

What is hummus without garlic? I would've chalked that up as one of the essential ingredients.
posted by mushhushshu at 10:43 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


I was expecting an SCP.
posted by odinsdream at 10:51 AM on October 4 [15 favorites]


If this article was going to be this pretentious, it really ought to have been better written.
posted by Diablevert at 10:51 AM on October 4 [10 favorites]


That was a clever, insightful read, but for an Olive Garden review that captures the fundamental essence of the place I still defer to Marilyn Hagerty.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:52 AM on October 4 [7 favorites]


I remember at a certain point in the early 90s that a visit to the Olive Garden felt like a big deal. I think our family went when I graduated high school.

But now I've sorted of positioned it in my brain as just another in a line of generic restaurants where you can get various fried foods and pasta dishes.

I cannot recall the last time I visited one, maybe 10+ years ago. I guess it's still very much a thing. We don't have too many locations in this part of Ontario. But I also live in a very touristy area and there are so many of these kinds of generic tacky chain restaurants that I just block them out of my brain.
posted by Fizz at 10:55 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


That article tried way too hard to link Gauguin to the OG. I do like the idea of the “room with a thousand doors” motif. What if *any* door could spontaneously open into the Olive Garden? A guy goes to the shed for a rake and surprise, there’s the Olive Garden! Pop open the microwave, and instead of your TV dinner, there sits a nicely presented plate with unlimited soup and breadsticks! That’s an advertising campaign waiting to be made.
posted by Autumnheart at 11:04 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]




OK so my takeaway from this article is supposed to be "I now ship Van Gogh/Gauguin" right? Because I ship it.
posted by capricorn at 11:12 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]


Turns out there's actually a series of articles at Eater about the death of middlebrow corporate chains.

I remember the first time I was in an Olive Garden (I can probably enumerate the visits I've made since, too, but I won't). This must have been in the mid-to-late 90s, and it had just opened down near the mall. We seldom ate out--too expensive, too fussy--but my mother wanted to try it, so we went, just the two of us. I don't know what we ate--breadsticks, certainly--but she pronounced it expensive and bad, and we never went again.

Italian for us was either homemade (the meatballs!) or the rare sit-down in the dining area of a pizza place that served dry chicken cutlets smothered in greasy red sauce and plastic cheese next to a mountain of rubbery spaghetti. To this day I don't eat red sauce Italian except at home. What's the point?

The piece is suffused with a kind of wistful nostalgia for bland, infinitely-repeatable chain dining that I didn't grow up with and haven't acquired as an adult. I'm not too poor to eat out, anymore, but spending money on food that I can make--better--at home for pennies on the dollar is still galling unless it comes with an especially attractive atmosphere, and Olive Garden and Applebee's ain't it.

(I am still said, however, about the loss of the Friendly's down the block, because nobody else makes a decent sundae around here.)
posted by uncleozzy at 11:12 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks

I'm assuming those were the three days before resurrection?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:12 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


espite the promises of the name, it can be a challenge to find actual olives at Olive Garden.

No wait I actually have two takeaways from the article and the second one is "wtf does this author think olive oil is made from?"
posted by capricorn at 11:15 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


In the MetaFilter universe, just as those cats eternally will be stuck in their scanners, there should never be a post about Olive Garden without reference being made to ‘Greg Nog was a Host at the Olive Garden.’
posted by LeLiLo at 11:19 AM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Hurrah for a new word: precarity. However, it seems that this word is usually a noun that refers to the condition of living in an (economically) precarious state. Can it be used as a synonym for precariousness?
posted by TreeRooster at 11:29 AM on October 4


I will never understand the American disdain for whole olives. Olives are delicious: flavorful, buttery, complex, with a beautiful texture. Sure, cocktail olives and the sad little fellows on a "Greek" salad often aren't GOOD olives, but even bad olives have some of the same charm. Luckily I'm known as 'the guy who likes olives', and therefore each time they're a part of any meal I get all of them, which is wonderful.
posted by codacorolla at 11:30 AM on October 4 [13 favorites]


My own personal Olive Garden, the one of my childhood, the Olive Garden of which all subsequently visited Olive Gardens are projections, is in Matteson, Illinois, on a curb-edged island in the parking lot of a Quality Inn and Suites just off the I-57 interchange, across a six-lane street from the husk of an old shopping mall.

This very Olive Garden is the one I went to regularly when I lived near Kankakee, because all the other restaurants around were worse. People waited in line to get into that Olive Garden.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:37 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5 And say unto them, that Italian Wedding Soup is on special all this week, and that it comes with endless breadsticks.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:39 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]


Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks

Henceforth I will say this in lieu of "Christ on a bike," or "Christ on a crutch."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:43 AM on October 4 [5 favorites]


And now I see that I have recounted my Matteson, IL Olive Garden memories here before:

One time we went there to celebrate when my husband got a raise. Since we were celebrating, he decided to order a cognac after dinner. The cognac he'd spotted at the bar was quite decent, but they obviously didn't serve it very often. The bartender knew that it was supposed to be served in a snifter, so he got down the snifter and filled it up to the top.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:44 AM on October 4 [14 favorites]


‘Greg Nog was a Host at the Olive Garden.’

So was Rock Steady, he just never drew a fantastic cartoon about it.

People waited in line to get into that Olive Garden.

In fact, I was one of the first Hosts at the first Olive Garden in New England (near the former Shopper's World in Framingham, MA). I worked there for a little over a year, and we routinely had 2 to 3 hour waits for a table on the weekends. Keep in mind that this was before the days of the little buzzy coasters, so you had to sit in the lobby or just outside for the whole time or possibly miss your table being called.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:48 AM on October 4


Nobody wants garlic hummus.

What is hummus without garlic? I would've chalked that up as one of the essential ingredients.


Roasted red pepper?

Despite the promises of the name, it can be a challenge to find actual olives at Olive Garden.

No wait I actually have two takeaways from the article and the second one is "wtf does this author think olive oil is made from?"


Yeah, but olive oil isn't olives, from a food perspective.
posted by Samizdata at 12:03 PM on October 4


Spaghetti Walmart.
posted by delfin at 12:28 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Mostaccioli Marshalls.
Farfalle Five Below.
Ditalini Dollar Tree.

Orecchiette 'Ome Goods.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:36 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I found this to be a grammatically correct article, so there's that, but something about the tone really bothers me. I think because it's essentially a defense of mediocrity, and the author thinks by admitting this up front it somehow transforms her perspective into something more meaningful.

So this:

I don’t remember what we ate, besides the toasted ravioli; it didn’t register as particularly wonderful or particularly awful. This is how it should be. This is what chains are: a well-paved path down the middle, a place where convenience for the consumer is surpassed only by convenience for the seller.

and then this:

Despite its flirtation with the existential abyss, a non-place isn't necessarily a bad thing for a place to be. It may be bad sometimes, or even frequently, but it isn’t always. One of the things I love about the Olive Garden, the reason I continue to love it, despite its gummy pasta and its maladaptive, kale-forward response to modern food culture, is its nowhereness.

So a forgettable, bad food experience driven by corporate profits, sounds about right. Where's the insight here?
posted by jeremias at 12:53 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


People don't like olives. They don't know what to do with them.

Why do you think God gave you fingers?!?
posted by Room 641-A at 1:09 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I...was there a point to this?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:13 PM on October 4


Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks

I'm assuming those were the three days before resurrection?


It was the first draft of the Sermon on the Mount.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:30 PM on October 4


Why do you think God gave you fingers?!?

This, of course!
posted by BlueHorse at 1:44 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Van Gogh is far far too good for Gauguin this ship upsets me
posted by notquitemaryann at 2:53 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


The 2 black olives in an olive garden salad are the bland canned kind and I still like them. OG puts a lot of cheese and dairy based sauce on and in most of their food, so not much of an option for me, but they make a soup with sausage, potatoes, and kale that is very tasty. The whole US is being corporatized, restaurants, copy shops, coffee shops, doctors, etc.
posted by theora55 at 3:10 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I...was there a point to this?

This, of course!

I haven't felt the same way about that since Beetlejuice :/
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:31 PM on October 4




shhh let me eat my soybean oil ridden carbs in peace

does it matter that I am allergic to my three favorite dishes there?

will that stop me from eating salad, breadsticks, and minestrone soup?

no

you know why

because my middle name is shock

anaphylactic shock
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:04 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I discovered I could buy bottles of Olive Garden salad dressing at the Jewel, and I have scarcely eaten a salad dressed with anything else since. It is amazing. It's been so long since I've been to an Olive Garden that I don't even know if this bottled stuff is the same as the restaurant, but it's so crazy delicious I don't even care. I have been known to over-dress my salad and drink the remaining pool of dressing from the bottom of the bowl. Because I am all about good taste and fine manners.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:18 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I discovered I could buy bottles of Olive Garden salad dressing

This is exciting news! The only time I've lived near an Olive Garden was in Houston, like, 20 years ago. I remember going once, maybe twice, and freaking loving the salad dressing! I actively miss it, even though I basocally can't even remember the actual taste. I never look at the dressings on the shelf but turns out they're sold at my local markets.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:46 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


That was a clever, insightful read, but for an Olive Garden review that captures the fundamental essence of the place I still defer to

Andrew Hussie (cw mentalism)
posted by one for the books at 8:26 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


One time we went there to celebrate when my husband got a raise. Since we were celebrating, he decided to order a cognac after dinner. The cognac he'd spotted at the bar was quite decent, but they obviously didn't serve it very often. The bartender knew that it was supposed to be served in a snifter, so he got down the snifter and filled it up to the top.
posted by Daily Alice at 2:44 PM on October 4


That's a lovely anecdote. Reminds me of a time regularly flying on an Arctic airline that had inflight service which included complementary wine. The flight attendants used the same plastic glasses for wine as they did for soda, and filled them to the brim. Each glass must have held more than a third of a bottle, and, well, the flights were long. The stairs to deplane were consistently a challenge.
posted by ZaphodB at 9:52 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I grew up behind an Olive Garden. When the power went out in the summer (thunderstorm, downed tree branch, whatever) and we'd gotten too bored of wandering the mall, we'd go there and eat the infinite salad and breadsticks. I'll always think fondly of it.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:06 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


A local university sponsors an annual "engineering challenge" competition for the local high schools where the kids have to design and build stuff, like a hovercraft or a go-cart or whatever. Each school team had an engineering student (I think the whole thing is part of a class they take), a local professional engineer advisor, and a teacher from the school as advisor and coordinator and whatever. For the first few years they reliably presented all the teachers and professional engineers with a $25 Olive Garden gift card as a token of appreciation for all their hard work and dedication and donation of their personal time after school and weekends over about a 6-month period to help the kids bring their designs to fruition. Last year, however, I guess they were strapped for cash, since they presented only the professional engineers with the Olive Garden cards and just thanked the teachers with a round of applause. Like WTF, engineers can afford to buy their own meal at Olive Garden, if anyone needs a meal token it's teachers. I say this of course as the spouse of a teacher, looking forward to my annual jaunt to Olive Garden. I don't even like OG that much, but it was the principle of the thing that really got me.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:50 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I actually read this down to the bottom (skipping things like the Gauguin parts -- looks like I didn't miss much) where I discovered this is one of a bunch of articles under the theme "the slow decline of the middling suburban chain". TLDR: The loss of unionized middle-class jobs + an internet that can usually steer people to decent places in unfamiliar towns did it.

Thanks to these articles, I now understand why restaurants rely on that pretentious unctuous phrase "house-made". Meaning this isn't that Applebee's corporate shit trucked in from Cincinnati.
posted by morspin at 8:33 PM on October 5


« Older internet of things that screw you over   |   Time to renovate the Nobels ? Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.