One great thing about being an adult is getting to make your own choices. With respect to food, and for me almost everything is, this means being able to eat whatever I want. (As long as the Healthy-Choice-Wife-and-Kids aren’t around, although in fairness they don’t stop me. They merely tell me, subtly, how I’m slowly killing myself: “I’m not taking care of you when you fall apart.”, or “Nice choice, doughboy.” I almost feel compelled to make better choices. Almost.). I remember as a child being forced to eat some of the most abhorrent foods because someone in power dictated that they were good for me. I recall sitting alone at the dinner table, an hour after everyone else had finished, because I couldn’t leave until my plate was clean. My mom was on to every trick; spitting into napkins, sneaking into the bathroom, etc. Even her prized poodle, who would eat virtually anything (including my turtle), would often carry my desperate offerings into the living room and drop them at my mother’s feet. The dog liked to eat cat poop; how bad must this food have been?
I’m proud to say that many of these defilers of the oral senses haven’t passed my teeth since those early days, and never will as long as I can feed myself. I have to think, though, that even when I’m a diapered, wrinkled blob bewildered by Alzheimer’s, I’ll still be able to tell edible from vomitous. I feel like I’m a pretty tough guy; if you want information from me that is vital to national security or threatens the safety of my family, do your worst. I’ve already hurt myself in some of the worst ways imaginable. Threaten to force-feed me with certain “foods”, however, and I might sing like Pavarotti in the shower. Since either scenario seems unlikely, however, I begrudgingly offer Ten Gastric Ways of Making Me Talk,in no particular order:
1) Broccoli – Named after some poor Italian peasant who ate a weed out of desperation. Everything about it is disgusting: when eaten raw, those little beady ends have the texture of something dropped in the dirt. When cooked, the house smells like Jabba the Hutt ate some bad Mexican. There simply are NO foods that smell awful and taste good; it’s nature’s way of warning you to stay away. This is one of the more insidious poisons, having passed my guard more than once because people somehow feel the need to try to hide it in all sorts of dishes, like casseroles and even Lasagna. (I love lasagna; adding broccoli is like dropping a couple of turdlets into a nice glass of beer. Why would anyone do that?). Fortunately, I can usually spot it and can definitely taste it in the first bite.
2) Cauliflower –Albino broccoli.
3) Fish – Any and all kinds are most foul. Freshwater or salt, they both taste like…well, fish. No one can tell me they enjoy the smell of fish; it stinks. A marathoner’s jock strap would likely smell better to me. (Never going to know for sure; even if I could run a marathon, I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t smell my jock or anyone else’s afterward if I did. Pretty sure it’d smell like fish, though). Again, if it smells bad, it’s going to taste bad. I’ve been told that fresh salmon and swordfish are among the tastiest. Well, I tried them both and felt betrayed by those who recommended them. My wife and I went to a seafood restaurant in San Diego for our anniversary (the steak was pretty good), and my wife’s eyes rolled back in her head rapturously after every bite of salmon. She suckered me into trying it, and I spent the next ten minutes apologizing to the lady at the next table for spitting food in her hair. Tuna from a can (fresh sucks), mixed with pickle juice and tons of mayo, is the best I’ve tasted.
4) Brussel Sprouts – …Sorry. I shuddered involuntarily after having typed the name. These little balls (perhaps those of the Belgian version of the Jolly Green Giant) from hell are particularly bad. When my mother cooked Brussel sprouts, the house smelled for hours like the diarrhea ward of a Delhi hospital after an outbreak of dysentery. She would plop three or four of these onto an otherwise flawless plate of mashed potatoes and fried chicken, and their juices would render the whole plate a toxic waste dump.
5)Lobster/Shrimp – Cockroaches of the sea. Everything that sinks to the bottom of the ocean becomes fodder for them. They even look like roaches. The first guy who pulled one of these out of the water and decided to eat it must have been desperate indeed. Soak them with butter, batter-fry them, drown them in cocktail sauce; a roach of any other color is still a roach. Though crustaceans, they taste like fish which, as we’ve established, is disgusting.
6) Liver – This is truly mind-boggling to me as a dietary choice. The liver is the body’s filtering system, involved in the processing of digestive products and neutralizing toxins. By its very nature, therefore, it is a food to be avoided. Have you ever seen a duck in a pond? Throw anything at it you want and the duck will try to eat it. The French are weird.
7) Limburger Cheese – Holy cow, what a stench, like that of sweaty anus. (I’m guessing, having never directly smelled one before. The sweaty anus, I mean).
8) Anchovies – I realize anchovies are a type of fish and therefore belong in #3, but because they are used so often as an ingredient and I’m running out of ideas, I give them their own category. Anchovies on pizza are sacrilege. My mother-in-law, who is the best cook I have ever known, once put anchovy paste in her deviled eggs. I paid the ultimate price for sneaking into her fridge and stealing one at a family get-together. Since that day, I have assigned one of my children the job of the King’s Taster, lest she try to poison me again.
9) Sauerkraut –Leave it to the Germans to make something already as gross as cabbage downright toxic. Literally translated, it means “sour vegetable.” It’s often served with weinerschnitzel, apparently to enhance its wonder by pairing it with something that smells and tastes like it came from between Adolph’s toes.
10) Okra – I have only tried this vegetable once. The taste, which was unpleasant, was exceeded only by the slimy texture, as though someone with the Spanish flu had prepared it. I have avoided trips to Louisiana to see relatives that I love because of it.
I honestly feel that people only began to eat these things because they were on the verge of starvation. These same foods have gained acceptance by the middle and upper classes when it was discovered that they were “healthy” and full of vitamins. But you know what? So is a bottle of Centrum. You might live longer than I will, but my food tastes better, is virtually mercury-free and I don’t have plant parts stuck in my teeth. (I have meat stuck in my teeth). And I’ll take much longer to decompose then you once I’m gone, too. So there.