Thursday, September 4, 2008

Stupid Food Tricks

Yesterday's post about China-meshi brought back a few more food-related memories, thus launching this entry and staving off writer's block for at least another day.

I mentioned any unfamiliar food was off-limits for my tastebuds but there were inexplicable exceptions. Or maybe there was an explanation. Like Colman's hot mustard, for example. Why did it look so appetizing to me? Maybe because I'd see the grownups dab a spoonful into a little dish, pour a dose of Kikkoman shoyu on top and mix it up with their hashi, then dip various morsels of food such as chashu into it, pop it in their mouths and look satisfied.

"That's not for kids," my mom always warned me.

The bowl of mustard sat on the kitchen counter. Of course you know what I did, after carefully looking both ways. I ate a big spoonful of it. I was sure it would be delicious, so why bother testing the waters? Just go for it before anyone came back into the kitchen.

What can I say - my nostrils were in flames. My mom didn't need to say anything further after, "I told you so."

I loved Thanksgiving. You know, the only one I remember from my little days was the one on which I was sick. How can anyone have the misfortune to wake up sick on Thanksgiving? I was fine the night before but rose with a sore throat.

I think I liked the mashed potatoes more than the turkey itself. I'd constantly hound my mom to make mashed potatoes other than on T-Day and it was always the same excuse - she had no mashed potatoes.

One day I knew she was lying, though. She gave me the usual excuse and I smugly told her that yes, we did have mashed potatoes because I had just seen them.

She looked surprised, then asked where they were. I confidently led her to the kitchen cupboard and pointed to the can containing the delicacy I loved so. "Right there," I told her. "It even has a picture of it on the outside."

It was a can of Crisco.

Good thing I didn't take a big spoonful of that!

My dad once took me to his workplace Christmas party. He worked as a machinist at a company in the City of Commerce; the party was held in the machine shop where there were tables set up with make-your-own sandwich stations, drinks, etc. Nothing fancy, just an afternoon celebration.

Being the shy kid I was, I didn't want to go but he took me anyway. I got to meet his coworkers, only one of whom I remember because he kept telling me, "You know what your dad is? He's an okie!" And then he burst out laughing. My dad was laughing to, as were those around them, but the humor was lost on me. It still is, I guess. Must be machine-shop humor.

As an aside, once I told a teacher in elementary school that my dad was a bartender. I told my parents that night at the dinner table and my mom got all flustered. "Bartender?? What did you say that for??" I told her that the woman had asked me what my dad does, so I told her.

"Isn't he a bartender?" I asked. I didn't even know what that was.

"No!" my mom shot back. "Where'd you get that idea?"

"I thought I heard you and dad talking about it at the table," I said. It must have been someone else. My mom said she didn't know what I was talking about, but dad definitely was not a bartender. I guess that would bring too much shame on a Japanese family, haha.

Back to the Christmas party, my dad told me to go get myself something to eat but I was even too shy to leave his side to go to one of the tables. Finally after much coaxing I daringly ventured there and gave the fixings a once-over. A woman walked up to assemble a sandwich and asked me if I wanted her to put one together for me as well. I shyly shook my head. Nothing on the table looked that appetizing to me.

Except for the french rolls. I kept eyeing them. Finally I picked one up and put it on my plate. I took a bite and.. decided I didn't much care for it.

So I placed it back with the other french rolls that were piled on a platter. There it was, one roll sitting there missing one end where a bite had been taken out of it. How gross is that? I stood there watching the visitors to that table to see if anyone noticed, but if they did, they didn't let on to it. Those who had seen it may have wondered if this was a factory flaw; surely no one would have the low class to put back a roll after they had taken a bite from it!

Finally it was time to go home and I was greatly relieved. I don't know if my dad had wanted to stay there longer and I ruined it for him, but I was glad to be back home. I guess this should be another one of those Sorry 'bout that posts.

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