Have you ever been surprised by a piece of information and then realized that perhaps you’ve gone through the better part of your life not knowing something?
Well, just recently I saw an article in the food section of a publication. It was titled “Understanding the Eggplant.” And then I came upon another article in another publication that was titled “Exploring Meatloaf.” Except in the old high school lunchroom, food has never been this mysterious to me.
I was caught a bit off guard by these headlines because the best I can recall, I’ve never misunderstood an eggplant. It’s a big purple vegetable about the size of two fists. It’s good baked or fried. I prefer fried because I’m a Southern farm boy and I grew up believing that “friedliness is next to Godliness.”
So what can be so confusing about an eggplant? How can I misunderstand one as if it carries deep meaning? It’s not like it’s a folk singer or a poet.
Now, I realize chefs and food critics talk about presentation, aroma, ambiance and lots of other stuff that is totally superficial if you’ve been stacking peanuts all morning – and it’s dinner time.
In my opinion, food is simple. Those people who write about it professionally may try to confuse the issue to make their jobs look more complex.
Then comes “exploring meatloaf.” Meatloaf is not a frontier. It’s not an idea. It’s not a concept born out of deep discussions at committee meetings. It’s basically ground beef mixed with bread, onion, green peppers, salt and pepper, eggs and catsup. It’s been around a long time. It’s a way to stretch ground beef. One might consider it to be “hamburger helper on steroids.”
Now, I suppose there is some connotation for “exploring meatloaf” in a very non-conventional sense. When I was in college, some meatloaf was left in the refrigerator for quite a while. It started growing hair. Actually my roommate and I invented the Chia pet, but we failed to get a patent. By the time we got around to cleaning out the refrigerator, there was a small forest growing there – one that could have been “explored.”
But for the most part, I’ve never “explored” meatloaf. I just ate it with extra catsup.
Now, perhaps there is a food that is misunderstood. It’s parsley. Quite often at a fancy restaurant, they put a sprig of parsley on your plate. Of course you throw it away. It’s just for looks. It’s part of the presentation. I likened it to tossing aside dog fennels to get to a big juicy watermelon. Or maybe while listening to a politician’s speech, it’s like dumping all the rhetoric in hopes of finding some meat in his succotash.
And for those who don’t know what a dog fennel is, it’s just a weed that has no purpose other than to make a good blind on a dove shoot. I had this dream once where I planted a patch of marijuana, and then someone discovered that you could get high from smoking dog fennels. That’s called “buzzard luck.”
Now, I may be the first person to ever compare a politician’s speech to parsley on a dinner plate. But maybe the next time you’re at one of those boring banquets, it will give you something to talk about.
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.