Tag Archives: food

Giving Thanks in 2013

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thanksgiving-eventAnyone who reads GB&GSF regularly knows this holiday season is incredibly difficult for me. It’s hard to believe it’s our first Thanksgiving without Mama. Mama loved to cook and she loved to eat, but the last few years, she hadn’t been able to do either. Still, instead of dwelling on the pain, I’m going to get through the day by following the advice attributed to one of one of the wisest men I’ve ever read — Dr. Seuss — who said, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” With that in mind, instead of spending the day in tears heartbroken because Mama is gone, I’m going to give thanks for the 42 Thanksgivings I was blessed to spend with her. I’m thankful for all the Thanksgiving dinners Mama cooked and when she got tired of cooking, I’m thankful for all the cooks and waitresses at Ryan’s Family Restaurant and Cracker Barrel for giving some of their holiday to wait on us and feed us.

I’m thankful for all the Thanksgiving suppers my Granny Wham made for us over the years she was with us. I’m thankful for all the times I listened to Papa Wham as he bowed his head to say the grace I still remember to this day, “Father please pardon us for all of our sins and we thank you for these and all our other many blessings in Christ’s name, amen.”

I’m thankful for my family and friends still with me. I’ve lost many of them over the years and I figure to lose many more before it’s my turn to journey across Jordan. In just a few hours, I’ll be thankful to sit down at a table FULL of food prepared by my loving “second wife” Laura and other members of her (and by adoption and extension, my) family. I’m thankful for Laura herself and her precious real husband, Cameron and my ersatz nephew Jacob.

I’m also thankful for my beloved Budge and the 17 Thanksgivings she has endured me and my sometimes stormy moods around the holidays. I could never have guessed a simple Hummer ride up a washboard mountain road would turn out to be the beginning of a much longer and sometimes stranger trip.

I’m thankful for all the men and women whose duties won’t allow them to spend a quiet day with their families — our soldiers, sailors, and airmen stationed here and across the world providing safety and security for our nation and many other nations across the globe. Also, I’m thankful for our doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who are staffing our hospitals ready to treat the various injuries and illnesses a day of overeating, overexertion, and — sometimes — overexposure to family can bring.

Finally, I’m thankful that one day I’ll get to rejoin Mama and my other loved ones around another table at a marriage supper and I’m thankful for the One who made that possible by His sacrifice that redeemed Mama, Granny, Papa, Budge, me, and so many millions more down the centuries. Our world was in a mess and without any hope, but Jesus came and by His sacrifice, set right everything Adam screwed up. I know not everyone who reads my blog believes Jesus even existed, much less lived and died to save a doomed humanity, but . . . well, He did and my life is living proof as anyone who knew me “back when” can attest to.

I’m also thankful for all of you who read my blog and who’ve encouraged me over the years. Remember I love all y’all and keep those feet clean as you “gobble til you wobble” today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

For Want of a Code a Ham Was Lost . . . Almost

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The object of the quest!

This has been a rough couple of days.

Yesterday morning, I picked up my nearly-dead cell phone to discover a message from my sis-in-law, Missy, who had called at 11:30 PM the previous night in an attempt to relay the message that Dad had been taken to the hospital by ambulance because of chest pains which developed as he and Sandy, my mom-in-law, were watching the final minutes of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”

This was a cause of concern.

I called Sandy, who was in the room with Dad awaiting the team to come prep him for an exploratory heart catheterization. She said the procedure was scheduled for 1:00 PM. I assured her we would be there. Upon hanging up with Sandy, I waited for Budge to awaken of her own free will to tell her that her Dad was in the hospital about to undergo a bit of heart surgery.

She took the news quite well.

Dad's troubles lay in the LAD and the OM vessels.

We spent the rest of the day yesterday in the waiting room of the Heart Cath Lab at St. Francis Hospital in downtown Greenville. The procedure that was to start at 1:00 was delayed by a complete comedy of errors until 4:00 but the doctor managed to detect the blockages and place one stent into one of those blockages in the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery (the “LAD” for short). Unfortunately, the plaque dam in the Obtuse Marginal Artery would have to wait because of the deleterious effect of the acidity of the contrast dye used in the procedure. Well, in due time, in this case due time being 11:00 AM this morning, the second stent found its new home and Dad was taken to his room for a period of rest and recovery before he is released tomorrow.

Because of all that drama, I got stuck with ham duty.

See, we — that is to say Budge’s side of the family — planned to gather at Dad and Sandy’s tomorrow night for a Christmas celebration and the guest of honor was slated to be a patented Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The love Dad and Budge have for Honeybaked Hams is hard to overstate, which may have been partially responsible for those nasty blockages, come to think of it. Now, Budge and Sandy were talking in the waiting room this morning about shoes, wine, children, how Budge broke her toe the night before, etc, etc, when Sandy suddenly exclaimed, “Oh dear, the ham will be ready to pick up at 2:00 today.”

The ham. The Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Will be ready. At 2:00. TODAY.

Let me recap for you. Dad, Sandy’s husband, Budge’s father, my beloved father-in-law, is having heart surgery at that very moment. Everybody on board? Despite that little bump in the road, however, somehow, a HAM — that was to be served at a dinner that is now cancelled for obvious reasons — shot to the top of the priority board. I don’t know how. That’s not my area. I just know Sandy was worried about the ham so Budge put her at ease with, “We will pick up the ham.” Sandy felt this was a capital idea and wrote out a blank check for us to purchase the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Apparently, the ham question was settled. Dad came out of surgery just fine; we all hugged necks and sent Dad off to his room with Sandy close behind.

Then Budge and I realized we were hungry.

So, off we went to Oriental House for lunch. En route, we contacted Erica who joined us for a fine lunch of some kind of meat liberally soaked in “white sauce.” For the record, I don’t know what kind of meat it actually is nor do I have much idea of the ingredients in the “white sauce.” I just know it tastes divine so I adhere to the Apostle Paul’s admonition in his First Epistle to the Corinthian Church and go on about my business.  After the meal, Budge and Erica decided to go see a movie. I reminded Budge that we had ham duty and was informed that now I had ham duty. They went to the movie and I went to pick up the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham.

I managed to get to the Honeybaked Store on Pleasantburg Drive without incident. I managed to get across the parking lot in the driving rain without incident. However, I did not manage to pick up the ham without incident. I confidently strode to the counter under the “Pick up hams here” sign and a brightly smiling young lady with a beautiful cafe au lait complexion looked at me sweetly and said, “May I have your code please?”

I remembered Budge and Sandy discussing a code earlier. I even remembered the code they were discussing, so I blithely sang out “52252” and waited for my ham to appear.

My ham did not appear and it was here my troubles began.

Abandon all hope ye who enter herein without a CODE!

The sweet child said, “Um, that’s not one of our codes, sir. I need your official Honeybaked Ham code so I can get your ham.” (Incidentally, that code turned out to be the code to get into the garage within which dwells the extra refrigerator where the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham — in a perfect and code free world — was supposed to be deposited)

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. This had seemed a straightforward transaction.

I told the sweet young lady that I had no other code but the ham was under Sandy Sims’ name at which point she smiled and said, “We don’t file hams by name, sir, just codes.”Once again, I explained that I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham.

So, trying to be helpful, she said, “Well how many people are you serving? Maybe we can figure out the code that way.” I never realized it would take an advanced degree in cryptography to buy a ham.

Keeping my smile as plastered on as I could, I told the girl I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. Furthermore, this time I added that as a MAN, did she really think I would have been entrusted with something as vitally important as the Christmas gathering guest list? So finally, she gave up and got the manager who came out and the first thing this bright apple did was say, “May I have your code, sir?”

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham and instead ended up in a Monty Python skit.

At the end of my tether by this point, I told the man to just give me one of the biggest damn hams in the store and if it were the wrong one, I would eat the leftovers myself. This finally garnered me a bag full of a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham at which point I went to the register to pay.

The young man had witnessed the entire fracas and so was most solicitous as I filled in the rest of the check for the ridiculous price they asked for a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. I handed him the check and he looked it over carefully. I was about to ask him if something was wrong when he looked at me most somberly and pointed towards four numbers neatly written at the top of the check in Sandy’s immaculate handwriting as he announced, “Um, sir, that’s your code.”

He managed to keep a straight face. I did not.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Doctor, Doctor!

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Had the yearly doctor’s visit today with my GP, Dr. Alberto Lopez, MD. He is the second of the grand total of two doctors who have taken care of my general physical well-being for my entire life, having taken over my care upon the death of Dr. James Monroe, who was the last of the great country doctors this part of the world will ever see.

Dr. Lopez was aggravated with me yet again. Just like Dr. Monroe and I always did,Dr. Lopez and I have a running argument going about my weight. I’m 5’9.5″ in my maroon Crocs, but I weigh in at 343 lbs. Apparently, that’s about 143 lbs too much for Dr. Lopez’ comfort. He’s given me blood test after blood test and sent me for stress tests and other lab work for years now.

That’s where the problem comes in . . . nothing’s wrong with me. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zed. Zero.

Other than more mental / emotional issues than Carters has liver pills, I am healthy as the proverbial equine. For several years, I had a touch of hypertension that lisinopril twice a day managed, but since I no longer have to deal with crazy school superintendents or bitchy assistant principals, my blood pressure has settled down quite nicely and I only have to take a fourth of the dosage of lisinopril that I was on. My cholesterol is 50 points below the desired threshold and my “good” cholesterol is through the roof. The only spot of concern is my A1C numbers. I’m in the “metabolic syndrome” area of that particular scale of diabeticness, but my numbers have been trending down the last few visits.

All of this drives poor Dr. Lopez barmy.

I’m morbidly obese, I am a sedentary as a boulder on the bottom of the Challenger Deep, and my four main food groups are fried, red meat, chocolate, and ice cream. The most exercise I get is feeding my two outside boys and tossing their ball to them for a bit each day. By any reasonable medical opinion and measure, I should have one foot firmly in the grave and one on a Teflon coated banana peel.

But I don’t.

My arteries are clean. My heart is strong — despite being broken so many times — and my numbers are good. Dr. Lopez says the only explanation he has is genetics. He thinks I must have good genes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him for 15 years. The men in my family — especially on Daddy’s side — are vigorously healthy right up to the point where they drop dead of a massive heart attack somewhere between 73 and 78. Up to that point though, they were all the picture of health.

Mama’s side of the family has a much similar story among the men. I have several great-great uncles who lived well into their ninth decades and dear Uncle Monroe was 102 when he died and the week before he passed away he was chasing nurses up and down the halls of his nursing home in his wheel chair. His brother, my great-grandfather Grandpa Bussler, was 90-something when he died — well, technically he was murdered, but that’s a really good story for another time.

The long and the short of it is I come from a long line of men built to last for an allotted amount of time before keeping an appointment with the Reaper and our bodies can handle a lot of whatever makes us happy until that day comes. Understand, PLEASE, that I’m not bragging. I’m very lucky and I know it. However, I also know the truth Hank Williams, Sr put down in song years before I was thought about — “I’ll never get out of this world alive!”

I know there’s a reckoning waiting for me out there in about thirty-five years, if the Lord should tarry and I avoid accidents and jealous husbands — unlike dear Grandpa Bussler — so I’d rather concentrate on living and let dying take care of itself. From what I hear, it doesn’t take a lot of practice. As Edmund Gwenn famously said to his friend George Seaton just before embarking on the journey into the great cloud of unknowing, “Dying? Dying’s easy; now comedy? THAT’S hard.”

Love y’all and keep those feet clean!

Food Fight

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This is a pretty long post, but stick with it, thanks!

Yesterday was Budge’s first day on her medically supervised six-week weight loss plan. This isn’t the first time she’s attempted to lose weight, but it is the first time she’s gone to this careful extent. My job is to fix the shakes and provide moral support and encouragement. I plan to eat a bigger lunch and forgo supper to avoid cooking and eating in front of her and hopefully that will make this easier on her. I don’t trust diets like this, but she is under an excellent doctor’s care AND — more importantly — she’s promised me this is for HER not ME or anyone else. She’s my Budge no matter what she weighs and that’s all that matters, but her mama fought the battle of the bulge her entire life before dying at 46 of complications from pancreatitis and a final stroke. With 46 looming large in life’s windshield, Budge told me she didn’t want to go out that way so I told her do what she had to do and I’d have her back.

Needless to say, I’m insanely, stupefyingly proud of her.

With Budge starting this diet, many people are pressuring on me to join her and want to know why I’m so resistant to adopting “the healthy lifestyle.” As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a small man. I am slightly south of six feet tall and slightly north of 350 pounds. I believe the medical term is “morbidly obese.” I prefer the much cuter sounding euphemism of “as big around as I am tall.”

Lately, my glib put-off has been “I’m going for the heart attack before the diabetes has a chance to get me.” That statement is anchored in a grain of truth. The men on Daddy’s side of the family die of massive coronaries. Granny Matt had ten children who lived and that included six sons. Of the six, five died at 78 or slightly before of the aforementioned coronary. Uncle Jack was the lone dissenter, but that’s another story for another time. Daddy had HIS first heart attack about nine or ten years ago. Many of Daddy’s male blood related first cousins have already had one or more heart attacks or have perished from the sudden squeezing of the chest.

On the other side of my family tree lurk diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. More of Mama’s kin than I can count have fallen victim to “The Sugar” and the lucky ones died quickly. The unlucky ones left the world a piece at a time. Many dodged diabetes only to succumb to Alzheimer’s and left the world not knowing themselves or their closest loved ones. I have no intention of going out like that if at all possible. Given the choice between slow piecemeal death and quick heart exploding death, my decision is clear.

As I said, that is my somewhat humorous glib smart-ass answer. The pure and simple truth is, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, not so pure and definitely not simple. Fact is, obesity and I are old and bitter foes and after many bloody engagements fraught with pain, sadness, and disappointment, I have bowed to the stronger will and chosen not to fight my weight anymore.

See the oh-so-pinchable legs?

I was BORN fat. I weighed 10 lbs and 5 ozs the day I came into the world and I was born hungry. The story is I slurped down an 8 oz bottle in two minutes and started crying for more. After 8 more ounces, I was still hungry so the nurse asked Mama what she wanted done and Mama, probably glimpsing the future, told her to go ahead and get me full. I was over 14 lbs by the time I came home from the hospital with rolls of fat on my thighs that my beloved great-Aunt Pearl delighted in lovingly pinching and patting.

I never looked back.

I think I topped 100 pounds by fifth grade. I may be off a year, but I do know that all my clothes came with the “HUSKY” label. I suppose that was the clothier’s way of trying to salvage the self-esteem of  a fat pre-teen. From almost the start, the family was worried about my weight. I was placed on a few diets by Dr. Monroe, our long-time family physician, but they all required keeping track of calories and such. I wasn’t clear on the concept of “serving size” or “portion control” so I figured a bowl of cereal was “one serving” of “180 calories” when a true serving size was 3/4 of a cup of cereal meaning my punch bowl of Cocoa Crisps with whole milk actually contained about SIX servings.

One of the greatest ironies of my saga with obesity lies in how Granny Wham tried to help me lose weight. She was THE most concerned of all my family, Mama included, when it came to my being — in her words — “a little too heavy.” She would constantly admonish me about eating too much at supper or cutting myself too big a slice of pound cake (Granny Wham made the greatest pound cake this side of paradise), but at the same time, SHE was the one asking me if I’d had enough to eat and did I want more chicken or rice with gravy or roast beef or whatever delicious dish she or Papa had prepared that night. It was like living in rehab with a drug pusher!

God bless her precious heart, it was confusing as all get out when I was a child, but looking back, I understand a little better. Granny couldn’t stand to see me fat but she couldn’t stand to see me sad either and not getting enough of that wonderful food would always make me sad so the doting grandmother in her usually won out over the concerned for my health responsible adult and I’d get another piece of pound cake . . . with ice cream on top . . . and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup . . . and Cool Whip. You get the idea.

All through elementary school and junior high, I just got bigger. Of course I got picked on and bullied because of being

Mama LOVED to dress me in horizontal stripes. Michelin Man anyone?

fat. I was called “fatty,” “lard-butt,” “two-ton,” and — my all time favorite — “The Great White Marshmallow.” I tried to shrug off the barbs as much as I could. I was dealing with other stuff. Unfortunately, one of my earliest and most cherished coping mechanisms was “escapism eating.” I’d get to Granny and Papa’s after a day at school enduring the shark tank of junior high, grab a book and a bag of Oreo cookies and go hide in the yard until supper. That kind of emotional eating did wonders for my waistline.

That’s the way things rocked on pretty much until my first year of high school. I was a nonathletic 225 pound blob when I went out for wrestling to try to get a date with Kim Robertson. The date never materialized, but I fell in love with wrestling, even if I was getting creamed twice a week at heavyweight. Funny thing is, the more I wrestled, the smaller I got. Who knew?

Then, right after wrestling season, I got braces to fix my crazy teeth. Now, I didn’t get the cute little “invisible brackets” glued to my teeth. I got the full monty of railroad track bands all over my mouth. My head, jaws, and mouth hurt so much that I couldn’t eat. I did good if I could sip some Cream of Chicken soup through a straw. I endured that pain for two months and when summer came and my teeth had finally moved enough for the agony to ease up some a funny thing happened. I looked in the mirror and a skinny kid was staring out at me.

Junior year of HS. This was the best it ever got. Skinny AND hair.

For 24 blessed months — a brief, shining moment — I was svelte. I dropped from 225 to 160. I could shop in the regular men’s section for the first time in my life. My inseam was actually longer than my waistline was round. My acne cleared about the same time and another odd thing happened. Without all the lard in the way, girls began to notice my crystal blue eyes and thick strong blond hair. Oh, and the straight white teeth — shout out to what made it all possible! It seemed like overnight I was being favorably compared to guys like Rick Mathews, our class’s resident Adonis, who played football and wrestled the weight class right above me. I was actually kind of a big deal.

Of course it went straight to my head and turned me into the exact kind of insufferable douche I’d always hated. Not to worry though. As Pony Boy is fond of reciting, “Nothing gold can stay.” Senior year came. My foibles and mistakes caught up with me. My head started filling up with thoughts and voices I couldn’t fight back. I was entering the worst depression I’d ever encountered and starting what was to become a desperate lifelong battle with my mind and emotions — but I didn’t know it. I had no idea what the hell was going on.

The final straw came when wrestling season started and the weight classes had changed. The 167 class was gone. I was now in Adonis’ weight class and Adonis was a better wrestler than I had a prayer of being.  When our 154 pounder went down early in the season with a blown out knee, everyone looked at me to cut the 15 pounds, take that spot, and make us an even greater team. I took a shot at it. God knows I tried, but the more water I drank and the harder I exercised, the bigger I got. It seemed I gained instead of losing. So I became a senior riding the bench when I should have been a captain. I gave up the fight.

I went into a headlong spiral and started drinking whenever I could, but mostly, I started eating whatever I wanted to again. It’s not like I had to keep my weight down anymore anyway. I was a three-year letter-man in wrestling. The only year I didn’t letter was my senior year.

But I’m not still bitter or anything. I’m just saying.

In college, I skipped the freshman fifteen and traded it for the freshman 50. I went from a 34 waist as a high school sophomore to a 40 waist as a college sophomore. I’d look in the mirror in disgust and I’d go on the fat wagon for a week. I’d work out every day down in Fike Hall gym. I took up tae-kwan-do. It helped a little, but in the end, the weight always won.

I was to be skinny and handsome one final time in my life. It would come after college and brought about a similar “senior year type” downward spiral with nearly identically disastrous personal results. A sordid, sad tale — for another time.

I’d started gaining back my weight from that episode when I met Budge. She married me fluffy and has stayed with me fat. I can’t thank her enough for that. These days, from time to time, I’ll contemplate hitting the fat wagon again and trying to get healthier. I don’t keep chips and dip or things of that nature in the house — fleeing temptation and all — but I watch too much Paula Deen and cook like her too much as well.

I gave up pill popping, driving fast cars, hanging out with my Five Favorite Uncles, and chasing crazy women. I started taking meds to try to quiet the cacophony in my head. All of that draws heavily from my well of willpower. For Budge and Mama’s sake, I have to concentrate my energy on what’s going to make me the most endurable. Losing weight, no matter how important I know it is, would take reserves I don’t have.

Fairly recent picture with a good view of the booth-busting belly.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like I revel in being fat. I haven’t bought clothes in over two years because I can’t stand the disappointment of the fitting room. I’m reminded of what, to quote from Full Metal Jacket, “a disgusting, flabtastic piece of fatbody filth” I am every time I try to sit in a restaurant booth and have to ask for a table because of my size. It isn’t like this is a high-ho bunch of fun because it ain’t. I just have to pick my battles and this is one I know the outcome of all too well.

Dr. Lopez — my primary care physician — stays on me about losing. He WANTS me to lose down to 200 lbs. I haven’t seen 200 lbs since my junior year of high school. That’s a little over 150 lbs. THAT IS A PERSON! THE MAN WANTS ME TO LOSE A PERSON. He can’t understand how a former wrestler and wrestling coach who knows so much about nutrition and exercise can be so blase’ about dropping the 10% body fat that produces measurable health benefits. Unfortunately, he also doesn’t understand something else — nothing good has ever come of me being skinny.

Sorry for the book length post.   Keep those feet clean, okay?

Love y’all.

Don’t ask, just eat it.

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Budge and I were having a discussion on the way to school this morning about Thanksgiving dinner coming up and all when she broached the subject of what kind of -vore humans are. Someone had once told her that we are anatomically designed to be herbivores because of our extended digestive tracts and lack of sizable canine teeth. Apparently, whoever told her that figures all meat eaters have to have short colons and saberteeth, but who really knows. Anyway, I assured her that humans are, in fact, omnivores and I offered as proof the fact that people the world over will eat pretty much ANYTHING.

To quote Mr. Jerry Clower, "slick, slimy, boiled okra!"

Just take my wonderful homeland of Dixie. People down here eat something called collard greens. If you Yankees and other foreigners want a good idea of what collard greens are, next time you cut grass, empty your mower bag into a 20 quart stock pot and boil for about four days. Add vinegar. Enjoy. People around here love that stuff. To me, it looks like someone already had a go at it before me.

Another godawful Southern “delicacy” is boiled okra. If you don’t know what okra is, google it. Once you have a picture of this strange vegetable in your mind, picture it boiled and canned. People love it. I believe those people also ate their own boogers when they were small as well because boiled okra is as close to snot as you can get outside a nose.

We southern boys don’t have the market cornered on strange stuff to eat though. Look at Scotland. Their national dish is some concoction called “haggis” which I’m pretty sure is Gaelic for “this is made out of what?!!” Haggis is a bunch of chopped up meat bits — the origins of which are better left unknown — topped off with oatmeal and spices. The whole kit’n’kaboodle is chopped up, swirled around, salted, and stuffed into a SHEEP STOMACH, sealed up, and boiled. People in kilts everywhere eat this.

My, my, my! Doesn't that stuffed sheep stomach look delish?

See, it’s dishes like haggis that make me wonder about our distant ancestors. I mean, look at eggs. Who is the first caveman to stare at a chicken and say to his hirsute brethren, “Ug, omaoma mooka go mabab mambo,” which loosely translated from Old High Caveman means, “I think I’ll eat the next thing that drops out of that bird’s butt!” You stop to think about that a minute. If these old boys had mistaken a rooster for a hen, breakfast could be a WHOLE lot different to us today.

Truthfully though, people will eat anything that can’t get away from them. In several parts of the world including Iceland, most of Scandinavia, and great swathes of Southeast Asia, people eat fermented fish. Basically, they bury, box, or barrel up a bunch of fish with some salt and stuff and wait. Eventually, the stuff rots enough and they bring it out and slap it on a cracker! Um, um good! REALLY?! Who was walking down the beach and came across a fish carcass riddled with scavenger holes and thought to himself, “I bet this would taste awesome with a little salt on a Ritz,” ?! In Norway, and parts of Minnesota by extension, they mix herring in with lye to make a concoction called lutefisk. Folks, if the recipe says, “add two cups of Drano to the fish mix,” y’all can just leave me out.

Of course, I mentioned Southeast Asia and I know we’ve all heard the jokes, but some of it isn’t a joke. Dog, cat, and rat are all considered delicacies in places like Thailand and Vietnam. The country folk in those nations don’t make a big ceremony out of it either. They’ll just stick a field rat on a skewer and pop it over a fire. Next thing you know, roasted rat.

Now please understand that I’m not making light of anyone’s plight. Some people eat what is available and I understand that, but someone explain “fugu fish” connoisseurs to me. For those that don’t know, raw fugu (or puffer fish) is considered a delicacy in Japan and commands HUGE sums of money. Just one little problem — if the chef doesn’t prepare the sashmi PERFECTLY, you will die about thirty minutes after dinner and that’ll really put a crimp in your movie plans, now won’t it? These people are eating something they KNOW will KILL them if just a tiny little bit of the wrong organ is missed in preparation. The aficionados of fugu claim to like the “thrill” of cheating death as well as the pleasant “tingling sensation” even properly prepared fugu creates on the tongue.

Right! I’ll stick with my Long John Silver’s fried shrimp thank you.

Ah! Casu marzo! Smooth and piquant, with a nutty, maggoty overtone!

Still, just to show I’m not trying to bash the Orient, people in Sardinia have a local favorite called “casu marzo.” This is a local cheese that is so “good” it’s illegal. Actually, the legality of the cheese has nothing to do with it’s flavor. No, casu marzo is made by leaving strong goat or sheep cheese out for flies to infest with maggots. Yes. You read that correctly. Part of the preparation is to have maggots crawl through the cheese. Apparently, the maggots “pre-digest” the cheese and give it a unique taste and texture not possible any other way. Of course, you can’t eat the cheese with the maggots in it because this particular species of “cheese maggot” is impervious to the hydrochloric acid present in our stomachs. That’s right. Our stomach contents can dissolve steel, but these maggots just swim right through it. Then, all nice and warm in the digestive tract, they can — and have — munch right through the intestinal wall into the body cavity and that boys and girls produces a little condition we like to call septicemia or septic shock. Simply put, forget and eat a maggot with your cheese cracker; die a painful, lingering death.

All for a piece of cheese? Really? So who looked at a hunk of cheese someone accidentally left on the table in the garden and now it’s crawling with maggots and thought to himself, “I bet those maggots made that cheese something special. I think I’ll try some!” Wow.

So yes. Humans are most definitely omnivores. If it grows out of the ground or beneath it, if it crawls, runs, swims or flies, someone, somewhere will put some ranch dressing on it, munch it up, and wash the whole thing down with a coke.

All I can say is, “ewww.” I think I’ll just stick with ice cream and McNuggets!

Love y’all and keep your feet clean . . . unless you want your toe cheese to become casu marzo!!