8:42am

Sat June 18, 2011
Simon Says

Vegan Pad Thai Serves As Red Meat In A Food Fight

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 entrée 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, ribeye 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 frutarian and a gluten-freetarian fighting a duel at 20 paces over the frozen black truffle flatbread?

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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