Post # 309 How To Eat Food

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 309 How To Eat Food

Back in the late 80’s, I went out to dinner with some friends.  At the time, I was eating in a whole-grain kind of way.  I was learning the flavors of food and didn’t want anything covering that up.  When I ordered my salad, the waiter asked what dressing I’d like.  I asked if they had any lemon I could squeeze onto it.  He looked puzzled, as though no one had ever asked for lemon before.  All they had were lemon juice packs for the tea so I got a couple of those.  It was a technique I’d learned in college.  Tasted as good as vinaigrette without a lot of oils and seasonings to mask other flavors.  Sometimes, all I did was sprinkle a little salt on the salad.  One of the ladies at the table was floored that I wasn’t having dressing on my salad.

“How can you not?” she asked.  So I replied, “How can you have?”

I told her how the lemon was light enough to allow me taste the other vegetables, but still provided a tartness that enhanced flavors.  The more I talked, the more confused she looked.  When our salads arrived, I asked her if she wanted to taste it, but she shook her head.

Instead, she asked the waiter if she could have my dressing since I wasn’t going to have any.  She put Thousand Island and Ranch dressing on her salad.  That floored me.  For one, I don’t care for either of those dressings.  Also, she put so much dressing on her salad that all you could taste was the dressing.  The crispness of the lettuce, the juiciness of the tomatoes, the bite of onion, all of it became a vehicle for transporting Ranch dressing into her mouth.  We never did reach an agreement on that, and still laugh about each other’s expressions today.

My brother, when he was younger (and my younger I mean back when we were kids and into our teens) was certainly not a discerning eater.  His tastes were basic and simple, more in line with the way my mother cooked.  His favorite meal was cereal; his favorite sandwich was peanut butter and jelly.  While the rest of us were enjoying steak, he was looking for mustard to put on his burger.  When we were eating popcorn, his hand became a claw gripping as much popcorn as he could jam into his mouth and still be able to breathe.  When he finally developed an appetite for steak, he’d cut chunks so large my mom and I would cast bets as to whether he was going to choke or not.  When he was about 19 or so, he worked for a local construction company and they sent his crew out of town on a job.  Their last evening there, they decided to go to a “nice” restaurant instead of the fast food burgers they’d been eating all week.

“They put dried up, old, stale bread crumbs all over my salad!” he told me.

I smiled, holding back laughter.  “Those are croutons.  They’re supposed to be there.  They’re good.”

“I don’t care what you call them.  They were dried up, old, stale bread crumbs.  I made them take it back and take them off.”

I suppose his tastes have changed.  I saw him eat croutons once.

A guy I used to work with once called me to his office to brainstorm.  As I sat down, I noticed a bagel on his desk.

“What’s on that?” I asked, always curious what other people liked to eat.

“Not much.  Some cream cheese, some peanut butter, and some chocolate spread.”

This was the guy who had just had liposuction to find his abs.

Another work friend told me he was on a plane once, and because of the length of the trip, and multiple stops, he was very hungry.  They were serving a small snack before dinner and he said they had the best bread and cheese sandwich.  He ate his pretty quickly, and the guy next to him didn’t want it so gave his to my friend.  Then the flight attendant brought him another.  After that leg was over, he was talking to his teammate as they walked to the next flight and commented on how good the cheese sandwiches were.  She looked puzzled for a moment and said, “That was bread and butter.  The butter was frozen.”

One time, when I was still traveling, I was in the “office”.  It was a big warehouse kind of place where all the travelers had assigned desks.  I’d go in very early to get my computer work done, and give up my spot to someone who came later.  As any reader of this blog knows, I don’t care much for many breakfast foods, so one day I brought in some pizza I’d had the night before.  I sat at my computer, ignoring my coworkers who were coming in, munching away happily at two cold slices of mushroom pizza and catching up on email.  Suddenly I heard, “What the HELL are you eating?”  One of my coworkers was staring aghast at my pizza.  I thought it was pretty obvious what I was eating but I said, “Pizza.”  She looked at me for a couple of seconds then added, “And a Pepsi?  At 6am?”  She was holding a large Starbucks cup so I said, “You like your morning caffeine hot and sweet.  I like mine cold and fizzy.”  She shook her head and wandered away.

One time in China, I was working with two people who both disliked Chinese food.  Every day for lunch, as we went back to our hotel and the closest American food restaurant, we would pass through the lunch room for the local staff.  The aromas would drive me crazy because I wanted some of everything.  One day after passing through and waiting at the elevator, I was thinking that now would be the time that I tried once again to convince them to go someplace local when one of them turned to me and said, “Man, that smelled awful!  I had to hold my breath in there.”  So much for eating local.  I made up for it on subsequent trips.

So what’s all this go to do with How To Eat Food?  The point of all these stories, aside from chuckling, is that however you want to eat is how to eat food.  There is no Food Police, and your palate is just as valid as Julia Child’s palate, or anyone else’s palate.  So however you want to eat, just enjoy!



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