Saturday, September 10, 2011

Some Gentle Musing on a September Saturday

I was having dinner with my father last night.

I was eating fried chicken, and, somehow, my father and I began to talk about some of the peculiar things that people in other cultures eat.

Of course, "peculiar" means different things to different people in different parts of the world. In America, we think nothing of eating beef or chicken or pork, but other cultures favor foods we would consider a bit too exotic.

Actually, I was eating a fried chicken sandwich. My father and I were dining at an eatery that has always specialized in hamburgers, but, in recent years, it has branched out into more exotic fare — like ostrich burgers and elk burgers and wild boar burgers.

That's a little too exotic for my more traditionalist father, who had a hamburger with onion rings. That's what he always has when we eat there. He even told me before we ordered that "I always tell myself I'm going to get something different, but I end up ordering the same thing."

And he did.

Normally, I have a hamburger and fries when we eat there, but last night I changed it up a bit and had the chicken sandwich. As I was eating it, I overheard a conversation near our table. Apparently, someone was eating one of the exotic burgers and was trying to persuade his small child to try it. The child was resisting.

"Come on," the father urged.

The child protested that it sounded "yucky."

"It tastes just like chicken," his father said.

I've heard parents use that tactic many times in my life — the one in which they compare the flavor of an unfamiliar food to a familiar one. And I started thinking.

I attended a small liberal arts college in Arkansas during my freshman year, and there was a spring tradition at this college to hold a "goat roast" on private property out in the country.

Mostly, it was an excuse to have a big keg party (the school was situated in a dry county) with live music, but there was food — and, true to the name, an honest–to–God goat was roasted. You didn't have to eat any of it. There were other foods there, too.

The goat was carved up and served between two slices of bread to those who dared to try it — and, being young and stupid (and a bit tipsy on beer), I dared to try it.

I don't remember now if anyone compared the flavor of roasted goat to another food. For that matter, I don't remember if it had any flavor to speak of.

So I can't honestly say that I would tell anyone that it tastes like chicken — or anything else.

But I have wondered over the years if, in places where it is customary to eat the foods that we find exotic, parents try to persuade their children to try chicken because "it tastes just like dog (or rattlesnake or whatever)?"