I’ve been an adventurous eater all my life. When your father says things like, “No, no, this is too good for kids”, you, of course, want to try it. While our friends in the trailer court were eating fast food and things from cans, my father was beating the hell out of a coconut with a hammer in the driveway. Just how do you open those things, anyway?
So would I like to try a new food? Yes. Will I try what you’re eating? Sure!
But sometimes… Sometimes…
Two years ago, Kathy, Amy, Leah, and I went to a rally marking the day of the 2000th U.S. soldier to die in the Iraq war. None of us were supporters of the war, and neither were the other hundred people who gathered on a corner on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis.
After the rally, we walked a couple blocks down to the Holy Land Deli. We hadn’t realized it until we arrived, but it was Ramadan. The restaurant was packed. Everyone was dressed very nicely and ready to eat after a dusk-to-dawn fasting. People talking, laughing, eating – the place looked like a family reunion. And did I mention that it was packed?
The buffet looked fabulous. Grab a plate, go through the line. Mmmmm. Don’t you love a buffet? I’ll have a little of everything.
And that’s what I was thinking that night: I’ll have a little of everything. And as we all sat down, Kathy leaned across the table, eyeing my plate. “Hey!” she said. “Where did you get the breaded mushrooms?”
Ha ha haaaa! I have mushrooms and you don’t!
Mmmm. What should I eat first from this plate full of Middle Eastern goodies? The largest mushroom on my plate. I love mushrooms. I popped it into my mouth and bit down, anticipating the lovely flavor of mushroom…
Oh. Oh, no.
That was not a mushroom. A gizzard, perhaps. Or perhaps – insert shudder here – a testicle. But not a mushroom. Whatever it was, it was an organ meat of some kind. Chewy, gristle-y, breaded organ meat. I stopped, the "mushroom" sat, static, in my mouth. What in the world was this?
I was suddenly aware of my table mates.
“What’s the matter?!” Kathy’s face mirrored the shock on my own.
I closed my eyes, held up the index finger of my right hand: Wait.
In what was possibly the bravest thing I did that year, I chewed, hastily, and swallowed, then washed it all down with a large Coke.
“What? What?” Everyone at the table was watching.
“A gizzard,” I said. “Possibly a testicle.”
Kathy was no longer jealous of my having found the “mushrooms”.
And I didn’t finish them.
3 hours ago