Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flu No More Chicken Soup

I am thoroughly convinced that my awesome chicken soup kicks the ass of any over-the-counter cold remedy out there. I have been sick for the better part of 2 weeks, and I finally broke down and made myself some soup the other night. So far, I'm feeling better than ever.

I'm not much of a recipe writer. It's a pinch of this or a shake of that. Here's my secret tips that make my soup so fucking awesome.

  • Ginger - it has all kinds of health benefits. Not ground, powdered ginger; fresh ginger.Use your microplane or a grater to mince it fine.
  • Peppers - I've tried to use cayenne or chilli in place of fresh peppers but nothing beats the real, fresh thing. I like to use a combo of jalapenos, serrano, and those long green Italian peppers. 
  • Chicken STOCK  - not broth or soup. Buy a good quality, low sodium STOCK. Stock is rich and dark and flavorful. Broth is nothing more than flavored water. The stock is where it's at. Don't skimp on this
  • Fresh lemon - Nothing enhances the flavor of chicken quite like a squeeze of lemon and maybe some of the zest. Use your microplane for the zest and your reamer to get all the juice out of the lemon. It also does wonders for a cold.

So, get out your favorite chicken soup recipe, and tweak it with my tips.

You need chicken with bones to make soup. No one makes soup with boneless breast meat. I personally like breast meat to eat, but the flavor is in the bones and the dark meat. For my soup, I bought a split chicken breast, bone in. With a pat of butter and some oil, I sauteed that chicken, breast side down in my soup pot until the outside was seal and the skin was crispy. Remove the chicken and set aside. If you have too much oil, drain off a little but leave enough to saute your mirepoix. You're making soup, so you ARE using mirepoix, rirght? (Onions, carrots, celery) small dice is fine. While sauteing your mirepoix, throw in your herbs and spices. I like thyme, parsley, tarragon, and some bay leaves. Use what you want. When it's all cooked and translucent (that means you can see through it), toss in a little minced garlic, lots of minced ginger, and your diced hot peppers. Cook until it's smelling good and cook everything down until it starts to caramelize in the pot. That means the water is cooking off from the veggies and the heat and natural sugars in the mixture is starting to brown slightly. Remove the chicken skin from the split breasts. Nothing is more gross than boiled chicken skin. Throw the whole breast back in there, bone and all. Cover everything in chicken stock. Rub all the fond (the brown caramelized bits) off the bottom of the pan. Toss in some bite sized carrots and boil until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken, shred the meat and return that shredded meat to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. I personally like a little starch in my soup so I always put in some mini pasta like orzo or stars or mini bow ties, like I just found this past weekend. Add a little more water if necessary and book down until the pasta is cooked through. Toss in the grated lemon zest and squeeze that lemon juice in there as though your life depended on it! All the caramelized veggies and fond should result in a rich, dark soup. Better than any yellow, canned coagulated mess any day.

Here's why my soup is awesome. The ginger is a natural immunity booster. The hot peppers helps the body sweat. Why do you need to sweat? Because all the bacteria and mucus and crap in your body making you sick needs to be forced out. The hot peppers help do that. Chicken soup, for some reason, is generally known to have some sort of healing powers. I don't know if that's scientific or mental, but there you have it.

I'm still ill, but much better than I have been the last couple of weeks. Try it. See if it does wonders for you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Crumbs: Trader Joe's Cookie Butter

Some people cry when they spill milk. Some bitch about crumbs in the bed. Some really don't like broken cookies in the bag. Well, Trader Joe's takes all those broken cookies and makes this awesome thing called Cookie Butter. Goddammit, I know I'm really late to the party when it comes to this product because it's been out for some time, but I  finally broke down and bought some. WOW!!!

It's not peanut butter or almond butter, but it sure does look like it. Within this velvety texture is tiny little specs of Speculoos cookies, which are crunchy Belgian cookies with a slight caramel and gingerbread flavor. It's a hint of cinnamon and maybe a little nutmeg. Whatever the hell it is, dammit, it's GOOOOOD!!! It reminds me of those awesome thin Bistro Buscuits that I devour from TJ's.

Anyway, they crush it down into a fine powder and blend it with vegan stuff (vegetable oil....I know, the only downside) and they make this fantastic butter! I have been forking it bit by bit since I've bought it. "Forking it" means I'm picking at it with a fork rather than scooping it out with a spoon. Because I'm watching my weight (insert chuckle here) I've opted not to spread it on anything, although I imagine it would be delicious on apples.

Ok, since this isn't exactly all natural or even very good for you in large quantities, I offer it as a substitute for those looking for a peanut-butter-like experience minus the nuts. I'd eat this on veggies. Yeah, I don't have a problem blending the savory with the sweet. I could even throw this in a pastry bag and pipe it on top of mini cupcakes. Mmmm....Imagine the possibilities!

I've said it once and I'll say it again- I friggin love Trader Joes!! Love it! Love it! Love it! Yes, it's not always cost effective and they don't have everything you need to stock a well-used kitchen. However, when it comes to comfort foods, I really love this store. There is very little I don't like about them.

Cookie Butter: Go check it out and let me know what you think!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Crumbled Cookie

I had a future bride put her 40 custom cookie order on hold earlier today. They were for next weekend, along with a platter of bride and groom chocolate dipped strawberries. I know this woman. She isn't just a referral. I've worked with her the last 8 years. I watched her as she navigated the singles scenes, I watched her start dating this guy, and proceed to break up and get back together several times over these last several years. I guess he finally got around to asking her.

Let me just set this up for you. On a scale from 1-10, this woman is a 20. She's tall, thin, beautiful, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She's gorgeous. This guy is maybe a high 4.

Anyway, that was relevant, whether you think so or not. So, she called to tell me she had to cancel her engagement party. She didn't sound well on the phone. In fact, she could have just texted me. She then said she wanted to pay me for the ingredients or the cost of whatever I've already bought by giving me half the money. If the party was back on in the future, I could consider it a deposit.

That's not my style. I told her not to worry about it, and to just let me know if they went through with the party at a future date. She kept insisting I take the money and I kept insisting that I didn't want it. It's about 7pm at this point, and I was ready for my Sunday night lineup. She kept pushing, saying that she was in my neighborhood and maybe we could go to a diner and she could pay me. Again, I'm not in the business of holding people's deposits, and I really didn't want to get dressed again to go out.

She finally broke down and said she wanted someone to talk to, and I've always been a reasonable headed person in the office and she would really appreciate it if I could step up and be a friend this evening.


So, I found myself at the Omega Diner (whoop-de-doo) sipping a hot cocoa and nibbling an overpriced grilled cheese and bacon. Wow. Talk about de ja vu! She ordered a BLT that she wasn't touching and a hot tea, and then a Jameson's on the rocks. (I almost went for her BLT but it was smothered in mayo.)

Well, I assumed this was about why her engagement party was called off. She caught her fiance with another woman. Not sleeping with the other woman. It was one of those things where she's been spending a lot of time in Mineola at her parent's house, planning the wedding and engagement party. Her fiance has been left in the city at their apartment in the Upper West Side, left to his own devices. To make a long story short, he said he was home working on stuff, and she found out he was out with another woman. I don't need to get in on the nitty-gritty, like she did for nearly an hour. That was the gist of it.

"Are you going to be okay?" What else could I ask her? I don't know her very well.
"No. Yeah. I don't know. I mean...I've waited so long to be married and now it's going to happen. My parents are elderly. I want my mother to see me married before she dies. That's the crux of it."
"But, you don't want to get married to the wrong guy just for that reason....do you?"

To me, this answer would be obvious. But, looking at her face, I don't think my obvious answer was the same as her obvious answer.

"I can get over this. I can. I'm just in shock right now."
"I don't want to be the devil's advocate or anything, but if he does it and gets away with it the first time he's caught, what's to stop him from doing it again if there are no consequences for his actions?"
"I didn't catch him in bed with someone else. He was just out...."

That's when I realized I was dealing with a future Stepford Wife. My buddy certainly fits the role. She's the perfect image of a beautiful, smart society wife. And her Irish immigrant parents expect her to be married to a good man with a fruitful job and breed more gorgeous blonde-haired and blue-eyed babies. That is the route her life was supposed to take. And then this happened. Something tells me that if she caught him after the whole wedding thing, it wouldn't be so bad. But here she is, struggling with a trust issue but knowing she's going to marry this guy anyway.

"Okay. Well, it seems to me that you have your mind made up. So you don't really need to know what I think about it, and it shouldn't matter anyway. It's between you and him. Are you going to be alright with your decision?"

I think I hit the nerve. She just stared at me. She started tearing up again, and I've never seen a woman cry pretty before like she did. I mean, her big blue eyes watered up like large animation eyes, and perfectly clear, round tears started to roll down her cheeks, not messing up her make up and leaving the most flawless trail of tears. I was mesmerized, to be honest. And I was also irritated, because it felt like I was wasting time. I wanted to get home to watch the Season Premier of The Walking Dead. This woman already knows what she wants to do. So, what the hell was I doing there?

Admittedly, this could have gone very wrong.

"Look, S," I started with no empathy whatsoever in my tone. "I think you're going to marry him despite what happened this weekend. I don't know either one of you well enough to say if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I can see you're not done with him. All I have to tell you is that no matter what choice you make, just be sure you can live with it. And I don't mean that in any ominous way. I just mean that you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror every morning and be okay with the person looking back at you."

She started picking at her BLT, much to my consternation. I had already finished my hot cocoa and grilled cheese, and I was still a little hungry, but not hungry enough to really order anything else. I opted to just steal her pickle instead and she seemed fine with it. Why let a perfectly good pickle go to waste, right?

"You think I can do that?"
"Do what?" I completely lost my train of thought. What did I tell her she needed to do?
"You know, get back together with him and be okay with myself for doing it?"
"I don't know. No one can answer that but you. But, let me just tell you from experience that you can't force a bagel into a pop-up toaster. Maybe you can mush it down and shove it in there, but you're not going to like what comes out IF it can even pop out when it's done. I've broken up and gotten back together with men all because it hurt too much to let them go, even if it was the right thing to do. And the story always ends the same way. I'm just saying that whatever decision you make, you need to be okay with it for yourself and your life. Whatever your priorities are, and I'm not judging, but you need to make sure your decision follows your priorities."
"Like, maybe crawl into my comforter for a couple of weeks and cry it out, then come out reborn like a butterfly?"

I tried not to let the grimace on my face look too obvious because her example seemed to perk her up. I'm not big on butterfly metaphors and I don't get why women love them so much, but I wasn't going to argue. If that's what she felt like, then I wasn't going to search my mental references to find a simile for something I preferred.

"I don't think that's a good idea. If you're feeling strong now and you can make a choice you're happy with, then why purge yourself into the whole depression thing? If you can skip that, I suggest that you do. I'm gonna quote Finnick Odair right now and say 'It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together then it does to fall apart.'"

With that, I also slid her cole slaw towards me and started on that. I wasn't impressed with the cole slaw, but it was just what I needed to finish my meal. I looked up at her and she gave me a blank stare.

"Who's Finnick Odair? Does he work with us? Is he Irish?"
"No, dude. He's from District 4." I started cracking up. "The Hunger Games. He doesn't come in until Catching Fire. Anyway, if you need to clear your head, it's a good series to read. It's a fitting quote....for you, I mean. If you don't need to fall apart, then don't. Like a house of cards. It takes hours and hours to put one up, and it takes one second to send it crashing down, and it will take hours and hours to put it back up. If your house isn't demolished, then don't bring it down. Don't let yourself crash down to that ugly place. It's a hard pit to climb out of."
"Oh. I'll get it for my kindle. Thank you, Katherine. You're a lot wiser than you let on at work."

Well, hell! If that wasn't a backhanded compliment, I don't know what was! If I was such a non-wise person, why did she drag me out of my warm bedroom and fuzzy pj's to come out into the cold night, into a mediocre diner to sit there and tell her she should do what ever she wanted to?

Either way, she looked a hell of a lot better and she wolfed down her BLT, her tea, and then her Jamesons with melted iced. She made the waiter bring her another cole slaw and pickle since I ate hers. She was kind enough not to bitch about it. Since she's pretty, they brought it out for her in record time without any fuss.

I have a feeling she's going to tell me her party is back on. So much for crumbled cookies. I think her cookies are going to be just fine, and her dude will throw some extra frosting on there just to sweeten the deal. I think her fiance is a really lucky guy. She can do so much better than this douchebag, but who knows why women do the things they do?

Anyway, thank you to Suzanne Collins for writing such awesome words!

“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together then it does to fall apart."
~Finnick Odair, Catching Fire

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Worst Taste in My Mouth

Congratulations, Campbell's Portobello Mushroom Madeira Bisque!! You have won the prize for having been one of the worst things I have ever had inside my mouth. (And I've had some pretty gnarly things in my mouth.)

I'm not above doing a Duane Reade lunch every now again; especially if the food options are stagnant in the establishments surrounding my office building or my wallet can't handle more than $3 or $4 for my midday meal. I've went through a phase where I was regularly slurping down Italian Wedding Soup, New England Clam Chowder, or Grilled Burger Stew from one of those microwavable environmentally unfriendly containers that come out piping hot in under three minutes from the office nuker. With a few dashes of hot sauce at my desk and a plastic spoon I probably swiped from the cafeteria on the 6th floor, I'm all set to have a quick, satisfactory bite that will hold me over until I can get something better for dinner.

It's not to say I'm recommending this kind of diet to anyone for any reason. It's loaded with sodium. None of them taste outrageously delicious. They're all pretty greasy. And I'm sure all that microwaving isn't doing anyone any good.

With that being said, I've had Chunky, Healthy Choice, and Campbell's Select Harvest. Chunky is my favorite for taste, but I've bought all of them about equally. Every now and then when I'm REALLY broke, I'll break down and buy a Cup a Noodle, but we're really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to an affordable meal.

Anyway, as I was browsing the food aisle of my local Duane Reade, looking for my affordable lunch, I noticed they added a new line of Campbell's; a MUSHROOM soup that looked all gourmet and tasty. I forked over my last $4 and looked forward to my lunch.

Let me tell you why this is the worst thing I've ever had in my life. First off, as I was reading to see how long it would take to zap it hot, I noticed that it said the container was not microwavable. I had to find a bowl, and my tupperware/candy dish had to be emptied and washed out so it would serve. When it came out of the microwave, it didn't smell particularly delicious. After one spoonful, it didn't taste very delicious. I shook some pepper into it. I tasted. Ick. I took out my crushed red pepper and garlic powder, usually reserved for pizza and gave it some shakes. A taste. Yuck. Still bland. More black pepper. More crushed pepper flakes. More garlic. Still a big, ugly, beige bowl of blandness. Not only was the flavor (or lack thereof) off-putting, but the texture of the various mushrooms were just downright unpleasant. Not quite rubbery or slimy. It just disintegrated into mush in your mouth with very little bite. Six or seven spoons were 6 or 7 spoons too much. I dumped the rest into the trash. (I'm sorry, starving people of the world! This is not very charitable or thoughtful of me!)

Never again. Just goes to show you that no matter how fancy a company makes their product out to be, you just can't polish a turd.


Speaking of bad taste, I'm going to go off on a little tangent here because I had one of these weirdo experiences late last week that left me a little shook up. Because I have been known to be one of those over-nurturing control freaks with my partners, many of my ex's doctors still have my information on file. I received a large package of medical records along with MRI dvd's, xrays, and lab reports. When I opened it and realized what it all was, I sent my ex a text only to find out his cell was changed or cut off or whatever. I don't know where he lives now; just that he lives with his new old woman. He doesn't use the internet for anything. He isn't listed.

I've thankfully fallen into this rut where I care a whole lot less about trying to be a savior. After doing due diligence to try and contact him, there really wasn't much else I could do. I re-wrapped the package and decided I was going to mail it back to the doctors office. I didn't have to wait long before my ex called me at work to ask if his package was sent to me. I haven't spoken to him in months, and he wasn't very happy with me the last time we did, so I wasn't thrown off by the frosty exchange.

I met up with him after work to give him his stuff. He tried to talk me into dinner, but I declined and he had that look about him that he knew I would say no. He offered me a ride home, and I declined again. He looked me square in the eye and said something like, "I'm not going to touch you, if that's what you're worried about. And it's pouring."

Tired from my day and aching pretty badly from my new sneakers, I caved and hopped in. (It really was raining like a mofo that day, and of course, I didn't have an umbrella.) It was a tense drive home through traffic with not many words flying back and forth between us. To top it all off, he had some homemade mixed-cd with nothing but country music. I don't really have a hatred of the genre. It's just not exactly my best category on Song Pop, you know? But if you're already irritated in the company of someone who can only irritate you even further, the last thing I personally want to hear blasting over cheap speakers is the country twang of a Nashville pop song.

My ex has a liking for smooth, female, slow, ballad-type music. I don't know where his new love of all things country came from, but I wasn't willing to get into it with him. His renewed love of the Born Again Cult of Bible Thumping has shown him many new experiences that he seems to enjoy in his retirement, so who am I to scoff at them....out loud, anyway. At one point, he was rambling about some church trip out to Texas sometime next year. I looked out the window at the traffic to keep the look of "Are you friggin' kidding me?" from registering on my face via eye-roll. He ends the subject with, "I've always wanted to go to Texas." It was the last statement on the matter when I didn't answer him.

Five minutes away from my house, one particular song came on and I had one freaky encounter.

Here are the words:

I've been sitting here staring at the clock on the wall
And I've been laying here praying, praying she won't call
It's just another call from home
And you'll get it and be gone
And I'll be crying

And I'll be begging you, baby
Beg you not to leave
But I'll be left here waiting
With my Heart on my sleeve
Oh, for the next time we'll be here
Seems like a million years
And I think I'm dying

What do I have to do to make you see
She can't love you like me?

Why don't you stay
I'm down on my knees
I'm so tired of being lonely
Don't I give you what you need
When she calls you to go
There is one thing you should know
We don't have to live this way
Baby, why don't you stay

You keep telling me, baby
There will come a time
When you will leave her arms
And forever be in mine
But I don't think that's the truth
And I don't like being used and I'm tired of waiting
It's too much pain to have to bear
To love a man you have to share

Why don't you stay
I'm down on my knees
I'm so tired of being lonely
Don't I give you what you need
When she calls you to go
There is one thing you should know
We don't have to live this way
Baby, why don't you stay

I can't take it any longer
But my will is getting stronger
And I think I know just what I have to do
I can't waste another minute
After all that I've put in it
I've given you my best
Why does she get the best of you
So next time you find you wanna leave her bed for mine

Why don't you stay
I'm up off my knees
I'm so tired of being lonely
You can't give me what I need
When she begs you not to go
There is one thing you should know
I don't have to live this way
Baby, why don't you stay, yeah

This is the song:

I've never heard this song before. It had a pretty melody, and the woman has a lovely voice. It wasn't until the second or third verse in that I realized what the hell she was singing about. And that's when it hit me; like a fucking punch in my gut.

It was years and years ago. I was still working at my culinary school and working full time at my job. It was a time when I spent all my free time getting drunk and waking up on a train in the middle of Brooklyn; hung over and pretty fucking pathetic. It was one of the many times I had left my husband (again) and was alternating weeks staying at a friend's apartment and renting cheap motel rooms. It didn't matter because I wasn't sleeping much anyway.

Joel and I started our thing.

At first, he was just the ride home I really didn't need. Was I tired and far from where I needed to be? Yeah, but it wasn't like I couldn't get myself home or was physically incapable of doing it. A ride home in a car someone else was driving with the heat blasting on a cold winter night and full control of the radio is like riding home in a fully loaded Escalade instead of a packed subway car with no available seats. I opted for the comfort instead of being a martyr.

So, back when I was still 24- young, sexy, head-strung...and tired of being married- I stepped into that man's car, let him drive me home, and invited him in...and kept him there with me all night. I didn't care that he was still sorting out his own marital status. I didn't care that the right thing to do was probably encourage him to go back home. Well, actually when it was all just sex and goodies, I told him he should go home to her and make things right. When he asked me what the hell we were doing with each other if that's how I felt, I said, "We're just having fun, right?"

But, after months and months of a man treating me well, I decided that "fun" was a lot nicer to have than misery. He drove me everywhere. He bought me anything I needed, because I never wanted for anything. I didn't even have to say I was hungry before he had food within my reach. He made me stop drinking. He made me stop partying. He made me take school more seriously. He made me give up a lot of my friends, albeit friends who were probably not taking me anywhere positive, but I let them go in exchange for his company. It was nice being with a man who knew how to treat a woman. There's also the other factor where he was good friends with my family and did them many, many solids over the years...but that's a whole other story that I'm not getting into.

Because of certain circumstances going on in his marriage, which I won't bother getting into either, he wouldn't give me a solid commitment, the way I had given him. We argued about it a little, but the longer this went on, the more heated our debates would get. It was our 6 month "anniversary" since our "first" time, and he went all out. He reserved an awesome room at a very posh hotel in the city. Rose petals on the bed. Flowers all over the room. A beautiful view. And room service. I'll never forget it. Ginger ale (because I stopped drinking), lobster, and the most fantastic mushroom tortellini with peas and pancetta in a rich and creamy alfredo sauce. Forever in my mind will be imprinted how delicious that tortellini was. It was so good, I ate all of mine, some of his, and was wishing there was more of that instead of the lobster. He called down for another plate of it. We were in the middle of...uh...working some of that dinner off when his phone rang.

It's the kind of call that the Other Woman always dreads while in mid-coitus with their married man. (If we're going to get technical, I was still married myself, but I was under the impression we had both made clean breaks long before all this went down, and it was clear that his break was neither actually broken or clean.) I sat under the silken covers the of the rose petal littered bed and watched him pull his clothes back on. I couldn't believe he was leaving...RIGHT NOW. It was our 6 month Sexiversary for God's sake!!

I yelled at him. I cursed him out. I threatened him. I cried. He didn't raise his voice or curse me back once. He sat on the bed, tried to embrace me, and again attempted to explain why he had to go and that he wouldn't be long and that he would be back and I just needed to give him a little more time to do all the things he promised he would do. I slapped his hand away from me, spit some nasty insult at him, buried my nakedness under the covers, my back towards him and told him to go. I didn't need him anyway. I felt him lay a chaste kiss on my shoulder and he was gone.

Not five minutes after he left, there was a knock at the door. Before I could even think or find clothes or anything, a heavily accented voice on the other side yelled through, "Ma'am your husband said to just leave the cart out here with your food. He already tipped me. I just need to let you know it's out here. Please let me know if you need anything else."

After a little deliberation and some choking ugly crying, I pulled on my little nightie and cracked the door open. Just as he promised, the rolling table was out there with a covered dish. I pulled it in and inspected it to see the tortellini plate, still hot and steaming. I was hungry...crying can take a lot out of a girl. I picked up the dish and sat on the bed, turning the television on, hoping to distract myself.

The hotel sent up a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine on the house for our anniversary, along with the tortellini plate. (Champagne is from France. If it's from any other region; it's only sparkling wine.) The tortellini was no longer delicious. While it was still the same flavor and textures that I fell in love with not an hour before, my tongue and senses no longer felt the same way about it. It felt heavy and sticky in my mouth- like wadded newspaper sauced with glue. I think all my sadness and loneliness poured out onto that dish (figuratively).

I never ate it again. I never made it again. It went from being my favorite comfort food in the world to being the one thing that can bring tears to my eyes just from the aroma.

I did, however, break my sobriety and downed that sparkling wine like a drowning woman. Big mistake. I was never a huge champagne fan to begin with, and coming off from being 6 months sober didn't make me such a bad ass with the bottle. I got violently ill not long after and the entire dinner along with the cheap sparkling wine came back up into the fancy toilet in the oversized luxury bathroom.

Hearing that song above did the strangest thing to me in that car with that man. I could SMELL that tortellini dish. I could taste it and nearly feel that sticky, heavy sauce on my tongue. It was so visceral, I nearly gagged. My stomach rolled. I could feel the bile rising up my throat.

I think it's staggering how our minds can control our senses. I let music affect me a lot. The right lyrics set to the right melody sang by the right voice will take my heart or mind to places far away from where my physical body is at that moment. Smells and tastes do the same thing to me. I can remember a reisling I had once in Salem, Mass at a seafood restaurant. It wasn't a particularly expensive reisling or even the best reisling I've ever had. It was good. But, it was such a nice time and the company I was in was so awesome (at the time), I can still feel the tight pucker of my mouth when that wine hit my tongue. And when I found it later on in NY and had it in a wine glass in a little apartment paired up with a Grandma slice of pizza- it still tasted like the best damn thing I've ever had in my entire life.

Good feelings can be evoked, as well as bad one's. I can't eat Spam. Ever. Or Vienna sausages. It reminds me of when my parents didn't have any food in the house and our breakfast, lunch, and dinner was stale rice with fried Spam or Vienna sausages. We would have to eat that until one of my parent's next paycheck. And it wasn't even that it was gross. I've tasted worse. It was the anxiety in my house and the fighting they did, and I knew that things were not okay and that money was an issue. I can still remember laying in my bed and hearing my dad yell about the house being taken away and all of us being homeless. And I would wake up to see my mom fried up a new batch of rice and Spam. My stomach would be in knots from the stress of what was going on. So, Spam will never be a staple in my fallout shelter.

Neither will Chef Boyardi microwave ravioli. I would eat that during my CVS days when I only had $15 to spend on food for the whole week so I would have enough of my paycheck left to pay for tokens (before the days of Metrocards) and pay my rent.

I wonder if other people have such crazy reactions to food or smells the way I do when certain emotions are evoked or if the food can trigger emotions to start screaming within them. I've met men who cannot eat certain things because it reminds them of a bad childhood. My friend's ex-husband remembered how his family would kill a chicken once a week back in his home country, and that traumatized him from eating chicken EVER again. He won't do it. My ex hated polenta. It's not really my cup of tea, but he had to eat it once in culinary school during our Italian module, and he nearly puked. He tasted, and then excused himself so he could spit it out in the bathroom without insulting our chef. He wouldn't get into it, but from what his mom told me, the old grocery where he worked at when he was 10 would give him free milk, bread, and polenta every week along with his pay. So, polenta was a big staple in their home, until one day he said he never wanted to eat it again.

Truthfully, the rules society puts down will probably behoove to eat things at nibble on something that I may really not want to, and I can do it with a smile on my face without dying. I'm just more concerned about not offending someone rather than my fragile psyche. But, when there is no one's feelings to worry about or a dinner party that I need to behave at; it would take a miracle for me to willingly eat someone on my Cannot Stomach List.

So, am I nuts or does everyone have that ONE food that they just can't get past their gullet?