Elizabeth Willis Barrett
I had a friend say that a meal is just a meal and whether it is a good meal or a bad meal doesn’t really matter once it’s over. That isn’t true for me. For some reason, meals stick in my mind for a long time. Food matters, especially a meal I have taken my very precious time to eat out.
For instance, eight months ago I had the most incredible cream of mushroom soup at a little bar and grill in Anacortez, Washington. Who would think that a finicky eater like myself would actually like cream of mushroom soup? But it was so delicious that I have thought of that soup all this time and couldn’t wait for the chance to have it again. Since Gilbert, Arizona isn’t just around the corner from Anacortez, Washington, it took a while to get back. But this weekend, family business took us again to that small and charming town. The first thing I insisted on was to head straight to the same restaurant to renew my acquaintance with that marvelous soup. But the soup was not to be had. They didn’t serve it anymore. (Add that soup to my “Now You See It, Now You Don’t” essay.) My letdown was exquisite. This meal, or lack of, won’t be fleeting in my mind. It will linger there in the fold of my brain’s hippocampus assigned to disappointments, right next to the wrinkle allotted to guilt–which, by the way, is packed full at the moment. My brain will definitely have to find more storage for guilt. Much can be said about guilt at another time, but back to meals….
If I’m going to eat out, it had better be memorable in a good way or I would rather make myself a delicious egg on toast with cheese and avocado and eat it leisurely by my computer. Once a friend and I went shopping and she wanted to drive through Taco Bell on the way home to grab a taco and burro. Really? I followed her directive and drove through but I would much rather have gone home and eaten some delicious leftovers I had in the frig than waste any money or calories on Taco Bell since we had to hurry home anyway.
One bad meal I remember was a tuna sandwich at a friend’s house made with Miracle Whip and pickles. Not good! I had to eat it because she had so thoughtfully fixed it for me but it was rough getting that sandwich past my taste buds. I do much better making my own sandwiches.
Another meal that still finds place in my remembrance was a Barbecue at BYU for the Alumni Council. It had several of my non-favorite foods: meat heavily drenched in strong BBQ sauce on a dry bun with the detestable sides of coleslaw and baked beans. That is truly the worst meal ever, excluding liver and onions which fakes you out with its tantalizing aroma. I was disappointed in BYU because that University can usually be depended on to serve the best of food.
It has taken me a while to realize that many people like those foods so, again, I might be the strange one. After all, BYU wouldn’t serve a meal that no one liked and neither would my friend.
Have you ever been in a Biology class where you had to put a piece of treated litmus paper in your mouth to see if you were a “taster?” If you are a “taster” then the paper will taste very bitter. If you’re not a “taster” then the paper will just taste like paper and not bring on a violent reaction of disgust. I found out that I am a “taster” and I wonder if that is why food, good or bad, makes such an impression on me.
For whatever reason, food matters. I remember the good meals and the bad meals and make an effort to have more of the former than the latter.