By DAVID PORTER
Rantoul Press columnist
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like my food to touch, and I tend to eat one thing at a time.
For some reason, this idiosyncrasy seems to bother those who mix their foods. Like my way is the wrong way and they fear I’m missing out on something wonderful.
It’s their duty to lure me over to their world of culinary Technicolor.
It’s not that I don’t mix foods at all, but I’m not building a casserole on my plate. Some foods are meant to go together, like peanut butter and jelly and eggs with toast.
A bun is what makes ground beef a hamburger. Otherwise, it’s chopped steak. Throw some gravy on it, it’s Salisbury steak. Top it with ketchup and bake it, it’s meatloaf. It’s all the same meat, but I only like it grilled and on a bun. No condiments except a little sweet pickle.
I have a few pairings I enjoy, but I don’t want to see a Jackson Pollock on my burger or a free-for-all on my dinner plate.
It’s especially challenging when one of the foods on the plate is a liquid. Like gravy, my favorite beverage. I’ll eat gravy on bread or potatoes, but I’m not pouring it over the green beans, the chicken and everything else.
"Oh, you don’t know what’s good," these food-mixers say.
Hey, if you like eating from a hog trough, you go right ahead. But why should it bother anyone else if I like my food to show a little modesty?
Oddly enough, I like mashed potatoes mixed with A-1 Steak Sauce. It totally grosses out other people. How is it that my mixing is bad and wrong and their mixing is good and proper? Am I not the authority on what tastes good to me?
The other day, we were at a buffet, and I wanted to put some cheese on my mashed potatoes. I couldn’t find the cheese at the salad bar, so I used gravy instead. Let’s face it, buffet mashed potatoes usually need a little help from somewhere.
I got back to the table, and my wife had cheese on her salad. I asked where she found it and explained how I had wanted some for my potatoes. She suggested I could still add cheese. But I pointed out I already had gravy on my potatoes.
She said all three together would be good. I looked at her like she had just suggested painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. No, I cannot mix cheese and gravy with potatoes. It’s one or the other.
It happened again at home. This time, I had mixed corn in with my potatoes — one of my more bold pairings. Jennie asked me if I wanted shredded cheese for my taters. I pointed out what she could plainly see — that I had mixed in the corn.
She said cheese and corn would be good together on the potatoes and it should be topped off with gravy. It didn’t seem like a suggestion as much as an admonishment.
It’s been this way my whole life. I’m the guy who wants only pepperoni on his pizza. "C’mon," the others say, "live a little." Like eating a bunch of stuff you don’t like mixed together is the party and I’m the wallflower in the corner.
When guys get together and order pizza, it’s a one-upmanship to see who can add the most outrageous crap. "I want peppers and onions," says one. "I want anchovies," says another. They might as well be ordering heartburn, indigestion and flatulence.
But here’s what happens — and this happened to me again just a couple of weeks ago. I’m with the guys and we’re ordering pizza. I make sure the guy in charge of ordering knows I can only eat pepperoni.
"Yeah, yeah," he says. "We’ll get one with just pepperoni on half of it."
So the pizzas come and I make my way to the boxes and, of course, somebody has already eaten the pepperoni — only half of my pie leaving me a choice between heartburn and hunger.
Can I help it that I’m so vanilla when it comes to food? We all like what we like. For me, it’s not only that I prefer bland foods; my digestive tract demands it.
Because I can’t eat spicy stuff, my wife and I tend to stay away from ethnic restaurants, although she loves Mexican food and bemoans that she seldom gets to have it.
Her kindergarten students obviously are well aware of that by the number of taco-related gifts she gets at Christmas.
She heard from a parent that one of her students wanted to invite her to dinner because they were having tacos that night. "Mrs. Porter loves tacos," he explained, "but she never gets to have them." He informed his mom: "Mrs. Porter married the wrong guy."
That’s right. I’m the wrong guy. Because spice makes right.
© Copyright 2019 by David Porter who can be reached at email@example.com. I’m sure if we think about it, we could come up with a lot more reasons why I’m "the wrong guy." Let’s not think about it.