Monday, January 10, 2011

Food for Thought

In a recent conversation, I learned an inconsequential piece of trivia. It concerned a deceased woman named Mary, whom I didn’t know very well. It seems that while among the living, Mary loathed eggs, and anything made with them, with a passion. Obviously, this stance of hers covered a heaping helping of culinary ground.

This little filler of old neighborhood lore came my way during a debate on the taste benefits of Italian hot sausages versus Italian sweet sausages. One relative of mine found it inconceivable that another could honestly dislike hot sausages. From her perspective, it was positively odd—perhaps even a critical character defect—not to appreciate something as super-scrumptious as a spicy hot sausage. Oblivious to the bald-faced irony, the relative accuser conceded to not liking sweet sausages at all—only their fiery pork cousins. And may I add this parenthetical aside: It’s more conceivable to me how somebody could find hot sausages objectionable—seeing as they are so spicy hot—while appreciating sweet sausages.

Anyway, there is a moral to this sausage story—a little food for thought that serves up a bit of insight into human nature, and reveals at least a morsel of why we are so messed up as a species. Granted, some of us are more messed up than others. While I consume the incredible, edible egg in many guises, there are some foods that I absolutely say no to—just like the late Mary. In fact, there are a few of them that physically and sometimes emotionally repulse me beyond any logic or reason. One wouldn’t need to waterboard me to break my spirit. Merely placing me in a colossal bowl of coleslaw, or some fancy salad with gelatinous tomatoes and stinky cheese bathed in pungent vinegar, would do the trick and fast turn me into a blithering idiot. I wonder if our CIA operatives have figured this one out. You know: Uncover the very foods (and various other things) that so nauseate their various prey. Traveling down this route, they could torture a whole lot of folks without violating the Geneva Convention.

While growing up, the utter disdain cast my way for not liking things that were so patently yummy for my tummy was at once palpable and predictable. “You don’t know what you’re missing” and "You don't know what's good" were phrases I heard with great regularity. And, of course, I was accused of seeking attention and desiring to be different in these family food wars of ours. I don't know...maybe this was I cannot say why I loathe certain fare with such fervor to this day. I was also told more than a time or two that I would eventually come to my senses as an adult, and rue all the good feed that I passed on as a boy. For the most part, I haven't.

And I’ve long since learned that an awful lot of people don’t like an awful lot of things, including many things I find pleasing to the palate. Go figure. Once upon a time I thought I was all alone in some gastronomic No Man’s Land. Turns out that I’m not so abnormal after all—in this regard at least—just made to feel so because I see a freshly sliced tomato for what it really is.

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