As you know I've been reading a lot of fiction and nonfiction by Tony Earley, so the following passage from one of his essays inspired my new feature:
I do no like, have never liked, nor expect to like. watermelon. For the record, I consider this a private, dietary preference, not a political choice, neither sign of failing character, nor renunciation of Southern citizenship. I simply do no like watermelon. Nor, for that matter, grits, blackberries, cantaloupe, buttermilk, okra, baked sweet potatoes, rhubarb, or collard greens. Particularly collard greens. I don't even like to look at collard greens. But, because I am a Southerner, a North Carolinian of Appalachian. Scot–Irish descent, off-spring of farming families on both sides, my family finds my failure to like the foods they like somehow distressing. Whenever I eat at my grandmother Ledbetter's table, my relatives earnestly strive to convince me that I am making a mistake by not sampling this or that, that I do not know what I am saying when I say no, that I should just try the greens, have just a little slice of watermelon, a small bite of cantaloupe, that I would eventually get used to the seeds in blackberries, the mealiness of grits, the swampy odor of greens boiled too long in a big pot. And, when I refuse, as I have been refusing with passion and steadfastness for as long as I could talk, they stare at me for a few seconds as if they do not know me, their mouths set sadly, then look down at their plates as if preparing to offer up a second grace.Now I don't know Mr. Earley, but I quickly judged him after reading his confession. How could I ever trust someone who doesn't enjoy a slice of watermelon? Is there any greater summer joy? Throw in a shade tree, a summer breeze, and I'm in heaven.
You can tell a lot about person by what they eat and don't eat. For example, my brother once dated a girl who didn't eat the following foods: anything with bones, anything with grill marks, beans, potatoes, or anything green. When she sat down at the table for dinner, her plate looked like one of those minimalistic plates you see in a gourmet restaurant. This is the gospel truth, my friends. For me these facts were signs that the relationship was doomed, but as you y'all know, love sometimes paralyzes logic. The ill-fated relationship ran its course and fortunately ran aground.
Perhaps, I'm too quick to judge. Perhaps, I'm a culinary snob. Perhaps, I need to take a look in the mirror, which eventually leads us to the point of this rambling entry. In this monthly feature, I'll reveal my culinary quirks, so that you can judge me and determine whether or not I'm worthy of following on my ramblings.
Here's the dirt: I don't like pancakes. Anytime pancakes are mentioned in our house, my wife and daughter beam with delight. When my wife prepares pancake, she, along with my daughter, sing and dance like they're in a Broadway musical. I expect Julie Andrews to gracefully burst into the house at any minute. On pancake days, I feel left out of the fun.
It's always been this way. When I was a child, my mother would shape pancakes into teddy bears to coax me into liking them. It didn't work. I've tried to like pancakes. I've tried banana pancakes, cornmeal pancakes, pumpkin pancakes, and pancakes with a variety of toppings. I've tried calling a pancake by other names: flapjacks, griddle cakes, crepes, hoe cakes, dutch babies, . Last week I spied, a recipe on chowhound.com for Hoddeok, which is a brown sugar pancake part of the Korean street food culture, so I printed the recipe with intentions of trying it. I decided to not attempt the recipe because I know that a pancake by any other name is just a pancake.
Now if I'm guest somewhere and pancakes are served, I politely and slowly eat a pancake. Otherwise, I avoid anything that resembles a pancake. Why do I dislike pancakes? Well, it boils down to two things:
- Pancakes always leave me feeling bloated and lethargic. Instead of giving me the energy to tackle the day with gusto, I seek out the nearest couch and blanket for a nap.
- I also hate syrup. Even typing the word syrup repulses me and leaves my finger tips feeling sticky on my keyboard. Even if I avoid syrup on my pancakes, somehow my fork, hands, and chin end up getting sticky. It's even difficult for me to purchase pancake syrup when I grocery shop. Mrs. Butterworth and her sticky hands terrify me. I'm slowly getting over my aversion to syrup and stickiness. Having a four-year-old daughter gives me plenty of opportunities to stare into the abyss and face my personal demons. I'm thankful for this.
Keep on the sunnyside,