Vegan Pad Thai Serves As Red Meat In Food Fight

Jun 18, 2011
Originally published on June 18, 2011 1:01 pm

The biggest story in the Big Apple by the end of this week may not have been Weinergate, but The Diva vs. Doc smackdown.

A judge in Manhattan Criminal Court acquitted Marcella Caprario, an opera singer, of assaulting Dr. Catherine London, a family practitioner, over a vegan tofu pad Thai frozen dinner in the aisle of a Trader Joe's market on the Upper West Side.

According to testimony, last Jan. 9, Ms. Caprario's husband, Bill Hobbs, leaned forward to reach for the vegan entree in the freezer section. He found his route interrupted by Dr. London's 13-year-old son, Noah.

Mr. Hobbs said something about Noah's teenage boy manners — maybe loudly. But you don't get attention on the Upper West Side by whispering sweet nothings.

Ms. Caprario disagreed — perhaps with the volume of a trained mezzo soprano.

Ms. Caprario says that Dr. London then rushed her and "got face to face, nose to nose, in a threatening way ... she began making grimaces and moving her head in a strange, animal-like manner," which, if true, suggests that angry vegans can be as combative as any spit-roasted, rib-eye-chewing carnivore.

The opera singer admits that she cursed Dr. London. I'll bet you can guess the word she used, too. It is as much the unofficial motto of New York as "Fuggedaboutit!" Dr. London admits that she replied with another epithet that's about as New York as celery tonic.

Ms. Caprario said that she then slapped Dr. London on the right cheek in what amounts to self-defense. Dr. London turned the other cheek — but then called police.

"She hit me so hard my ears were ringing," Catherine London testified. "I couldn't see for a moment. I was absolutely stunned."

Judge ShawnDya Simpson found Marcella Caprario not guilty. Both the New York Post and The New York Times, which can disagree about the weather, report that the judge appeared openly annoyed to hear the case. Perhaps, as the papers suggest, she was simply aghast that precious judicial resources had been spent on an incident involving a couple of curses and a slap over a frozen pad Thai dinner.

I think Judge Simpson might have also been thinking, "I'm never going to get appointed to the Supreme Court by hearing frozen tofu cases."

But the incident can make you wonder: How are India and Pakistan, the Yankees and the Red Sox, or Newt Gingrich and his campaign staff supposed to get along if two vegans from the yoga-loving Upper West Side can get into a scuffle over frozen pad Thai?

So what might be ahead? A frutarian and a gluten-freetarian fighting a duel at 20 paces over the frozen black truffle flatbread?

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The biggest story in the Big Apple by the end of this week may not have been Weinergate, but The Diva versus Doc smackdown. A judge in Manhattan Criminal Court acquitted Marcella Caprario, an opera singer, of assaulting Dr. Catherine London, a family practitioner, over a Vegan Tofu Pad-Thai frozen dinner in the aisle of a Trader Joe's market on the Upper West Side.

According to testimony last January 9, Ms. Caprario's husband, Bill Hobbs, leaned forward to reach for the vegan entree in the freezer section. He found his route interrupted by Dr. London's 13 year-old son, Noah. Mr. Hobbs said something about Noah's teenage boy manners - maybe loudly. But you don't get attention on the Upper West Side by whispering sweet nothings. Ms. Caprario disagreed, perhaps with the volume of a trained mezzo soprano.

Ms. Caprario says that Dr. London then rushed her and, quote, "got face to face, nose to nose, in a threatening way. She began making grimaces and moving her head in a strange, animal-like manner," which, if true, suggests that angry vegans can be as combative as any spit-roasted, rib-eye chewing carnivore.

The opera singer admits that she cursed Dr. London. I'll bet you can guess the word she used too. It is as much the unofficial motto of New York as Fuggedaboutit. Dr. London admits that she replied with another epithet that's about as New York as celery tonic. Ms. Caprario said that she then slapped Dr. London on the right cheek in what amounts to self-defense.

Dr. London turned the other cheek, but then called police. She hit me so hard my ears were ringing, Catherine London testified. I couldn't see for a moment. I was absolutely stunned.

Judge Shawn DyaSimpson found Marcella Caprario not guilty. Both the New York Post and The New York Times, which can disagree about the weather, report that the judge appeared openly annoyed to hear the case. Perhaps, as the papers suggest, she was simply aghast that precious judicial resources had been spent on an incident involving a couple of curses and a slap over a frozen pad-Thai dinner. I think Judge Simpson might have also been thinking, I'm never going to get appointed to the Supreme Court by hearing frozen tofu cases.

But the incident can make you wonder: how are India and Pakistan, the Yankees and the Red Sox, or Newt Gingrich and his campaign staff supposed to get along if two vegans from the yoga-loving Upper West Side can get into a scuffle over frozen pad Thai? So, what might be ahead? A fruitarian and gluten-freetarian fighting a duel at twenty paces over the frozen Black Truffle Flatbread?

(Soundbite of song)

DJDAVE: (Singing) Now, I'm on the inside looking at my list. Organic chicken, kale salad in a lemon twist. Some girl in yoga pants is looking at me funny. I'm just trying to find a decent pinot noir for under 20. Then I take it to the cheese counter. Humboldt Fog? Just ran out, sir. Really, dog? Take it easy, man, I try to calm myself. I've been on edge ever since they took Kombucha off the shelf. This buster is on his iPhone talking to his friends, picking up some cayenne pepper for his master cleanse. You're the most annoying dude I've ever seen, bra. Could you please move, you're right in front of the quinoa. Damn, I'm about to checkout, pay my 80 bucks for six things and get the heck out. The express lane is moving...

SIMON: And you're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.