Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Distaste Test

There’s a problem in my marriage. My wife demands that I taste her food when we go out to eat. It’s like she’s Al Qaeda launching a war on my meal enjoyment.

Why can’t we each just eat what we chose to order? If I wanted what she ordered, I would’ve ordered it.

With my decision to get a particular meal comes a taste palette I expect to savor. I can’t simply add other flavors to the mix. The entire dining experience is ruined.

So maybe I’m a little hard on my wife when she pushes her food on me.

“Sure,” I say, “I’ll try it.”

Maybe I’m not hard enough.

The other day, my wife suggested we try a new restaurant. That meant one thing: She’d want to sample. Wait, there’s a second thing: She’d want me to sample, too. I hate that. When I set out to eat a meal, I budget the entire plate. I never eat over my budget (not often, anyway), and I require everything I’ve set out to eat. Giving even one bite of my meal away throws the whole calculation off balance.

I wasn’t going to give in and go to this place to put up with the kind of meal blasphemy I’ve come to expect. I’d just have to tell my wife no, demand that we go to a familiar place, a place with no new dishes to try because we’ve had them all. I’d just have to be hard on her.

“Sure,” I said, “I’ll try it.”

I marched into the new restaurant determined to eat only what I ordered. And I was going to eat all of my meal, too -- share none of it.

I hated the place at first sight . . . and smell. It was seafood. Even though both sides of my family come from Palermo, Sicily, a seafood town, and even though my last name, I’m told, has something to do with a fisher boat, I take offense to all things fishy. I can’t even eat tuna fish. I knew I wouldn’t want to try my wife’s food. Heck, I wouldn’t even want to try my own.

We sat down and I investigated the menu for anything edible. It was more like an interrogation.

I found one dish. Beef teriyaki. I could eat that.

Now, my wife knows I despise seafood, and that I’ve tried enough of it to know for sure that it’s not for me. You name it, I’ve tried it -- crab, lobster, sushi, salmon, shrimp. And I’ve had it prepared many different ways, even the way you make it. Sorry if I offend anyone, but it all stinks. With that in mind, it should’ve been easy to convince my wife to drop the whole taste test thing.

“You wanna taste mine?” she asked.

“No,” I said. “My palate is set up for beef teriyaki.”

I hoped she wouldn’t ask for a taste of mine because the servings were pathetic. If price had anything to do with portions, I should’ve had a month’s worth of leftovers.

“Can I try some of yours?” my wife asked.

I couldn’t tell her no even though I was planning on eating the exact amount of food on my plate. I couldn’t be that hard on her. She’s my love. I had to let her try some of my skimpy servings.

“Sure,” I said. “You can try it.”

I believe the word you’re looking for is spineless.

I cut a small piece of my food for her to taste. The sample could’ve passed as a crumb. She asked for more. I gave her more -- two crumbs. And I watched her cut a piece of her seafood for me to try. I wish she gave me crumbs. Instead, the portion she slid over looked more like a beached whale on my plate.

She delivered the whole “It doesn’t have that fishy taste” speech that all fish pushers shamelessly apply to attract followers. Then she left me on my own and tried the sample I gave her. I jealously watched those morsels go down, morsels I’d budgeted for my personal intake.

My eyes fell back down to the fish on my plate. I took a bite. More like a lick. I swear I made contact.

Let’s just say I inhaled my soda and all the water at the table in hopes of pushing that fishy taste it didn’t have down into the pit of my stomach. Then I finished my micro meal and asked for the hefty check.

My wife suggested dessert. Enough was enough.

“Sure,” I said, “I can try dessert.”

Dessert was different, though. I could do the whole “trying thing” with dessert.

I tried everyone’s dessert until all of it was gone. I guess it wasn’t a terrible eating outing.

-December 2012

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