something happened on the way to giving the earl his comeuppance: a lifelong meat-lover developed a hankering for fresh veggies in his ‘wiches, and in his daily cuisine. how significant is that development? let’s put it this way: as a kid, i had a ninja-like ability to “dispose” of veggies behind the kitchen fridge in the middle of mealtimes, often right in front of my distracted parents. (my sister did the distracting sometimes. we were a formidable anti-veggie tag team.) i hated veggies with a passion. that distaste remained with me well into early adulthood, until i learned to douse veggies with dressings to mask their flavors on the rare occasions when i absolutely had to consume them. the earl’s challenge has thrown a bevy of veggie ‘wiches at me–abraxco’s, northern spy food company’s, mumbai xpress’s, etc.–and much to my initial astonishment, i’ve grown to appreciate the meat-light (and–gasp!–meat-less) options. anyone can carve up steaming roasts of meat and pile the slices onto two rudimentary pieces of bread, and get ooohs and aaahs from a meat-obsessed public, but it takes great skill to elicit the same sort of response with veggies. enter the ooh-and-aah-worthy scuttlebutt, a focaccia ‘wich that is festooned with an amazing medley of raw veggies–mesclun greens, capers, olives, radishes, pickles, and red onions (!!!)–complemented by a spicy garlic aioli and sharpened by a smattering of feta cheese. as a sop to the carnivores among us, the scuttlebutt also features slices of hard-boiled egg, but the veggies reign supreme in this ‘wich. what did the colorful concoction taste like? spring, dear friends, vibrant, assertive, bright, fresh spring. my ninja days are over. this is the spring of my contentment.