In our present climate of political correctness one must guard against expressing prejudice (particularly in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) in connection with persons, groups and/or customs which might offend the ACLU. However there is one group, certain members of which, I openly disdain and will let my feelings be known..... I allude to food.
Maybe it's due to my New England origins with its somewhat prescribed diet which lies at the bottom of my angst. This condition has been shaped over the years by certain lifetime experiences which have given me a culinary mind set. I herewith set forth a few of them:
"Click for larger view."
I was about ten years old when, on a Sunday afternoon family drive from Melrose, dad stopped at a chicken farm thinking it would be nice to experience the taste of fresh-killed chicken. All family members were present and watched as these hapless creatures were executed and did their run-around death dance before expiring. After de-feathering they were brought home and mother prepared them for the evening meal. This entree' of chicken, vegetables, etc. was no sooner on our plates when parents and children alike decided we had no stomach to consume something we had seen alive only hours before. We all clung to the concept that meat had its origin in the market's display counter. I have harbored this delusion to this day and, being thus encumbered, realize I wouldn't have lasted long on the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Fresh-killed; you can have it!
Then there was the time when, as a 15-year old, I was invited by the family of one of my young chums to accompany them on a camping trip to the Adirondacks. It was an evening on the shores of Lake Champlain that I joined my friends on a frog hunt. It was all new to me but struck me as being great sport. In fact I held a burlap bag while someone else immobilized a bewildered frog by shining a flashlight in its eyes, then grabbing it and throwing it in my bag. I beguiled myself into thinking they were not really going to eat these creatures. I was disabused of that notion when I awakened the next morning to the sounds of frogs legs sizzling in a frying pan. To the amazement of my elders I politely declined to join in the feast, stating that frogs were ugly and I had seen them alive.
As an adult many years later while vacationing on the island of Martinique we were dining in a little Auberge (inn) where we where staying. As readers may be aware, Martinique is largely a French speaking society and English spoken only in the more populated tourist areas. This inn catered mainly to French speaking Canadians, with only the innkeeper's daughter conversant in our tongue. Menus, of course, were printed in French with no English subtitles. I was betrayed by my high-school French when I mistakenly confused the French words for chicken with rabbit. I was enjoying the fine taste of this dish when I came upon some bones which I didn't recognize. They struck me as being longer "jumping bones." The innkeeper's daughter confirmed my suspicion that I was eating a long eared mammal who leaped. I quickly and discreetly applied napkin to mouth and expelled the offending morsel.
More recently, on one of our trips to my wife's relatives in eastern Montana we were enjoying a fine home cooked meal which included spaghetti and meat sauce. I was consuming said sauce with a relish when my sister-in-law casually mentioned that it was made with elk meat which her husband had slain on a recent hunting trip. Naturally my instincts immediately kicked in and the table napkin went to my mouth, much to our hosts' astonishment. I do admire these resourceful prairie folks and you can give me a home where the buffalo roam but don't expect me to eat 'em.
However food fetishes work both ways, as we all should agree. Perhaps my having lived in and/or spent a great deal of time in New Orleans and Baltimore I have acquired a taste for raw oysters on the half shell. A particularly enjoyable repast when accompanied by a horse radish sauce and liberal applications of an amber brew. My wife, and others, have watched aghast as I devour a dozen or so with a royal will.
I know that I'm an emotional cripple (gastronomically speaking)... but there it is. In the words of the old proverb "one man's meat is another man's poison."
I don't eat quiche or avocados either.
However you may mail me all your unwanted Christmas fruit cake.
December 3, 2004