Bulletin Board, excerpt


From (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, March 1, 2004


(A recent BB topic has been, "On the Menu..." What one food would you choose if you could have only one on the island? And what food if forbidden from the island? Someone wrote in that they dislike tomatoes but didn't know why.-gcb)

Poet X of PDX: "I, too, dislike tomatoes and can exactly pinpoint the reason for my aversion. Growing up in the prairie that is North Dakota, we'd take walks on what passed for hills. A cactus grows there that has a red berry in the center. It must have been some neighbor kids who would eat them — or, rather, suck the juice from them and discard the pulp. I tried one once and cringe 30-plus years later trying to avoid the memory. "The seeds and texture reminded me of tomatoes, and I stayed away from tomatoes for decades. "Over the past few years, I've been learning to like them. I've long eaten spaghetti and, sparingly, ketchup. In cooking, I learned that I could take the (what I call) 'snot' out — the seeds and jellylike mess — and enjoy whatever I was making. Every now and then I'll even have tomatoes on a sandwich, but only if they are fresh, firm and sliced very thin. "I could fill a book writing about foods that I didn't eat as a child which I eat as an adult. The first to come to mind, more so than tomatoes even, is cantaloupe. I could barely stand to be in a room with the smell of cantaloupe when I was young. For some reason, I was not exposed to honeydew when I was young. When I discovered honeydew melon and really liked that, I found that I could then eat cantaloupe. "Spinach is a given to be included on the list because the only spinach I saw as a child came out of a can at someone's house we were visiting. (Dad remarked on it for weeks or longer.) I must have been in college when I had my first spinach salad — and was hooked. "I have no idea why broccoli is not on my ancestral menu, but I swear I had to go to college in Minnesota to discover what I now call 'food of the gods.' The only time I've had broccoli and not liked it was on my first visit to NYC in the '80s. A corner pizza joint had pizza with overly large chunks of broccoli. Not recommended. (It's that tomato thing.) "OK, I've talked food enough, I should enter my Desert Island choices. Only one food? Chex, as long as that covers the basic three: rice, wheat and corn (bran came much later and can be skipped, not to mention multi-grain, a box of which sits on my refrigerator). Chex, comfort food that always reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa. "No show? Those pesky tomatoes."

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