December 5, 2011

What's For Dinner?

The phone rang. I eagerly picked it up, knowing it would be my husband's voice on the other end.

"How would you like alligator for dinner? One of my guys went hunting in Louisiana and caught a twelve foot gator. He brought me a couple pounds."

When I was growing up, my family enjoyed yummy meals - lots of Mexican food. My mom is a good cook and there is not a Christmas that goes by when I don't crave her enchiladas. Special occasions called for special foods, but our daily fare was more what one might expect from a large family on a modest income - plenty of hearty foods, designed to fill lots of bellies, not too much variety. I thought people who ate things like sushi and escargot were a bit odd.

Then I met my husband's family. I still remember my soon-to-be father-in-law introducing me to sushi (I love it!) and octopus (Gross!). I tried couscous. I ate lime-glazed chicken. I learned I like okra and despise liver and onions. I didn't always like what I tasted, but I was learning to taste before making up my mind. Even when offered rattlesnake.

It was a lesson well learned and it served me well each time we moved to a different region of our country. Matt, the kids, and I experienced the local culture through the foods we ate. Shellfish, barbecued brisket, and Czech onion and fish soups in one state; Polish pierogi, tandoori chicken, and pizzas in another; frozen custard, bratwurst, deer sausage and broasted chicken here...

"Of course! We'd love to try alligator. Please, thank your friend for us."

So, what does alligator taste like? No, not like chicken. More like pork, a veeery chewy pork. Interesting. Not bad.

In many ways, my family eats much as I did while growing up. We are, after all, a large family with a slightly-less-than-modest income. The difference is that when an opportunity presents itself to try something new and unusual, we jump at it. No longer do I think people who eat differently are odd. Well, with the exception of those who eat escargot. They're just weird.

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