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Miami Doctor Sues Houston’s Restaurant; Should Have Warned Him Not to Eat the Whole Artichoke

Written By Scott Joseph On November 19, 2010

A Miami doctor is suing Hillstone Restaurant Group, the parent company of Houston’s, because he was not warned that the artichoke he ordered at the Houston’s in North Miami Beach in 2009 should not have been consumed in its entirety. Arturo Carvajal, a physician with a family practice in Hollywood, ordered the appetizer special of grilled artichoke, a food object that he claims was hitherto unfamiliar to him. The suit states that the restaurant should have instructed him not to eat the hard, pointy, nearly unchewable outer leaves and to savor only the delectable heart. (Thank God they removed the fibrous choke before serving.)

Now, in the doctor’s defense (and he’s the plaintiff here, so he doesn’t really need a defense, but stick with me), the grilled artichoke at Houston’s is smaller than the large whole globes you find in the supermarket, and it is split open, so there is no need to pluck the outer leaves one by one to get to the heart. For those still unfamiliar with how to eat a whole artichoke, one pulls off a leaf, places it between the upper and lower sets of teeth, biting down softly, then extracts the leaf; the teeth scrapes off the soft, fleshy part. Now this is the important part: the leaf should then be discarded; it is, as the doctor now knows, inedible and undigestible. Carvajal says he suffered severe abdominal pain and discomfort, and an exploratory laparotomy revealed that indeed he had artichoke leaves in his bowel. Here’s a link to a blog post at Miami New Times with other details.

As coincidence would have it, I had one of these artichokes recently at the Winter Park Houston’s (which any day now will be fully rebranded Hillstone). Some of the inner leaves are fully tender and can be consumed, but as you work your way out, they become tough and unchewable. So a reasonable person wouldn’t try to fight his way through it. (In case you didn’t notice, my defense of the doctor just ended.) As a spokesperson for the Hillstone Group was quoted as saying in one news story, should the restaurant also have instructions not to eat the bones from the barbecued ribs?

What other foods should come with warning? Do you remember the first time you ate an artichoke? Discuss.


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