Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wasabi Peas in the Business Traveler's Hotel Bar

So, I decided to grab a nightcap at my business traveler's hotel before turning in for the night. It was crowded in the bar area, but I found an empty stool and sat down at the bar, scanned the shelf behind it, and noted the usual suspects--Jack, Jim Beam, Cuervo Gold, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire, etc. And then I noticed the little white snack tray on the bar, left over from the patron before me, it seemed, for it was only half-full.

And what it was half full of was little spicy green wasabi peas.

"Well, that's different," I thought. You don't often see spicy wasabi peas served as a bar snack in your standard issue business traveler's hotel bar.

Just then, a two-top opened up at the edge of the bar area, and I abandoned my stool to sit there, a little more comfortable and further away from the flat screens blaring sporting events I didn't care about. And there, on the little round table, next to the table tent of drink specials and a stray napkin, was another little white bowl of wasabi peas, also half-empty and, I could only assume, left behind by my departing predecessors.

The waitress whisked away the napkin and the leftover bowl of wasabi peas, then came back over a few minutes later with a cocktail menu and a fresh bowl of . . . not wasabi peas, but mixed nuts--almonds, cashews, peanuts, and, mixed evenly throughout, a generous sprinkling of green wasabi peas.

And then I got it. Every single patron in the bar was being served a little bowl of mixed nuts that includes wasabi peas. And every table ate all of the nuts in the bowl except the wasabi peas, which they left behind. And yet, rotely and religiously, the bar staff kept delivering bowl after bowl of nuts with wasabi peas mixed in. I wondered how many months or years that had been going on, the cascades of green peas getting dumped night after night into the trash.

I had been sort of excited about munching a few wasabi peas with my nightcap, but after the first couple of bites the novelty of a salty and blazingly hot snack faded quickly, and I soon found myself picking out the almonds and the cashews and the peanuts.

When I paid my check, I left behind, next to the faux leather holder with the "restaurant's copy" slip inside, a small white bowl half-filled with a beautiful layer of bright green wasabi peas.

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