I spent the last four days hanging out with my sons in Nashville. Both are dedicated “foodies” who have made “dining out” their favorite sport.
I tagged along as they moved from one “Pacific Rim” restaurant to another while I tried in vain to find something on the menu that I could pronounce, or at least recognize.
We did Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Thai and Malaysian with numerous stops at the popular sushi bar du jour. (I call it the bait bar.) This was a huge challenge for a girl whose idea of haute cuisine is the fare offered at the food court in any shopping mall.
They talked me into ordering “pad Thai,” a popular dish from Thailand made with cooked rice noodles. Noodles, I thought with relief. How could I go wrong with noodles? Let me tell you, these were NOT yo’ Mama’s noodles. They contained veges from Mars, crushed peanuts, tofu, and a meat that resembled the eel skin on my favorite wallet.
When did my palate lose its desire to try new things? I gagged when they coaxed me to taste something that looked like fermented fish entrails and had to rush to the restroom to spit out a libation that tasted like soapy dish water. I lost four pounds during the trip, because I drank pitchers of water to keep up my strength and get my mind off their oxtail ragu.
Meanwhile my boys almost passed out of embarrassment when the server asked if anything was wrong with my practically untouched unidentified dish. “It was just awful, I replied. “Do you have any ketchup?” They charged me full price anyway.
Never have I felt the generation gap widen so graphically between Baby Boomers and their offspring. I wondered who ARE these men, and how did they get this way. They grew up snacking on Hostess Cupcakes chased with glasses of chocolate milk for Pete’s sake!
We finally found a restaurant that carried a grilled cheese sandwich delivered to me on blackened bread (translation-BURNED). As I scraped away the burn with my knife, one son reminded me that he woke up to that sound of burned toast being scraped over the sink every day of his life. Sad but true. I’ve had my fair share of cooking to the tune of the smoke alarm, but I never claimed to be a gourmand.
They also noted that until very recently I thought Buffalo wings came from a rare species of buff— oh never mind. I proudly reserve the right to take my oafish Boomer tongue with me wherever I go
I categorize food as being delicious or undelicious and I can unequivocally say I experienced the later category this weekend. But, then again, the joy of eating for me isn’t just about the food. It’s about the people around you sharing space at your table.
Now that was delicious.