Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Potluck (Meal or Gathering) Deadline 7-26-12 @ 10 AM NY Time (07/19/12)
TITLE: A Culimary Journey
By djvenzke Venzke
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I feel sorry for picky eaters. They miss out on so much. I suppose they have their reasons. I’m just glad my culinary spectrum is not so restricted.
Most folks I’ve gone out to eat with study their menus for familiar dishes, but not me. I look for an adventure. I’m disappointed when I can’t find something I’ve never had before.
I remember ordering calamari for the first time. After the waitress left with our orders someone at the table commented that she just couldn’t handle the texture of squid. I heard her, but didn’t realize that was what would be on my plate when it arrived.
I played sports in college. After games the team sometimes ate at restaurants before heading back to campus. While my teammates ate their hamburgers and fries, I discovered the joys of exotic dishes like frog legs and linguini.
There are dishes that I probably will never eat. The television shows that feature unusual foods from around the world do not usually cause me to salivate. The idea of eating bugs, snakes and grubs repulses me.
One form of consumption I love though is buffets where I can eat all I can eat. Those places have to hate it when I come through the door. They may make some profit when most people eat, but not with me. I have such a huge appetite that relatives used to accuse me of having hollow legs.
The first time I was taken to a smorgasbord restaurant I ate until I was full. Then my buddies and I went into the restroom and did jumping jacks to settle the food in our stomachs and make room for more. Sure enough, I was able to pack in two more helpings.
I was skinny in those days. Even when I got married at just shy of twenty-one I weighed less than two hundred pounds. That changed quickly after I was blessed with my personal in-house cook who didn’t enforce portion control. My wife complained that even as she progressively made more there were never any leftovers. I didn’t know there were supposed to be any. I passed two hundred pounds during our first month of marriage and have never been back.
Restaurants offer menu items that seem specifically targeted at me – things like Whoppers, Belly Busters and super-size upgrades. I have met few such gastronomic challenges that I can’t finish.
Over the years I’ve made scales beg for mercy, but I’m proud to say I never pushed a needle past four hundred pounds. More honestly, I should say I’m surprised I never did.
One dining format that has consistently nudged me toward that unwanted achievement has been pot lucks. Those have been a constant presence in my life because of my involvement with churches, schools and companies. You see, my stomach is not my only internal organ with huge capabilities. I also have a heart. I know that everyone who brings a dish to the pot luck watches to see how well their dish is received.
Usually when I come through the line everyone else has already loaded their first plate. So I get to see the offerings that have been skipped over so far. I take large portions of those. But, I can’t ignore the others either or they will be offended. So I help myself to at least a little of every dish.
After I finish that first heaping plate I go back for me. My second plate isn’t heaping, but it is full of my favorite remaining entrees. After that, dessert! I love pot lucks!
Usually the fare at pot lucks is predictable, but sometimes there are surprises, opportunities for a culinary adventure. This was especially true during my years in Alaska. I had no idea there were so many different ways to prepare salmon and their eggs. I also sampled octopus, whale, bear, seal, caribou meat and even went fishing just for the halibut.
Now, I live in Texas. Can you say chili? Also big here are barbecued brisket, sausage and chicken. There are few things Texans don’t barbecue.
Then there’s a town nearby that will soon conduct its annual rattlesnake roundup. Hmm, maybe this will be the year for a rattlesnake steak…then again, maybe not. There are some limits to my culinary adventurism. I have to draw the line somewhere.
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