Mar 26, 2020

Normal Food Kirk Wont Eat Part 1. Coronavirus Edition

I hope you’re reading this at home, in bed.  Sheltering in place a safe social distance from other warm blooded humans as possible.  I’m taking this break from regularly scheduled normal life to tell you about a particular aspect of myself that people slowly learn about me as they get to interact with me.   Since we’re not eating at restaurants any more it might be hard for new friends to experience.  So here we go. It’s a long one.

   As some of you already know there’s a pretty strict list of things I wont eat.  Most of which are not for medical reasons…or any practical reason for the most part.  There’s a few things I chalk up to genetics but much of it is just because I think it looks gross. There’s a lot of things my dad didn’t like or eat so we never really had it in the house growing up.  He’s always said that he’s a “super taster” which is why he wont eat a lot of things.  He describes it as having a more developed sense of taste which allows him to experience flavors differently.  Things many enjoy he finds off-putting…which I totally get because I experience this too with certain things which is why I feel like I may have inherited some of that super taster DNA. My mom on the other hand eats all kinds of weird shit.  She grew up as a kid in Panama.  And then brought to the United States raised by her overbearing Okie father who ate a bunch of weird southern shit.  Pig’s feet, Okra, all kinds of different seafood, canned anchovies,  like pickled eggs and shit.  This stuff existed in our house but it was so freaky that we all just stayed away.  Mom knew we would never touch any of it either so it never made it into the family menu.   My dad has gotten more adventurous with his culinary choices in his old age but I think that’s just because he’s slowly lost some of his sense of taste and smell from a lifetime of smoking cigarettes like a locomotive going uphill.   The second hand smoke while I grew up may have tamed my tastebuds from the level he had as a kid but I still am averse to many foods. It’s funny, now he gets mad that I wont even try the things he raised me to dislike that his super-power has started to fade.  Whether its nature or nurture, I am an enigma when it comes to food I wont eat. 

Here I will compile as comprehensive list as I can come up with from memory.  I will try to separate them into categories which might make this harder or easier.  We’ll see.  If at any time you need to get up to sanitize or wash your hands, I’ll wait for you to come back. 

Food Allergies:  I thought for a minute that I was allergic to ginseng. Remember ginseng from the 90’s?   Touted to make you think better, they started putting it in products like tea and other soft drinks.  There was a brand of canned iced tea that I liked and they came out with a ginseng version of it that made my tongue feel numb.  I stopped drinking it and started thinking I might be allergic to ginseng.  The fad ended and I really don’t worry much about ginseng anymore.

Another thing that’s gotten popular is gluten allergies.  I don’t think I’m officially allergic but there’s some good science that says the way we farm wheat now is just bad for us in general.  I sometimes feel like I could be sensitive to it so I try to not eat a lot of bread.  That’s to say that bread is definitely NOT on my list of things I wont eat. 
As with the others mentioned above, I have never been officially diagnosed but I’m pretty sure I have some level of intolerance for lactose.  I discovered this while out on tour with my rock band when I was in my early 20’s.  One cheap and easy food we all kind of lived off of was breakfast cereal.  I would have a bowl or two a day, with real full-lactose milk.  Also around this time I was afflicted with bad farts.  All the time, almost on cue, horrible foul smelling farts.  It was funny at first but then it got to be concerning.  We were playing a show and had some pizzas back stage, a fan turned down our offer for pizza citing something I’d never heard of before. he was lactose intolerant or as he put it allergic to dairy.  He described his symptoms and thought that maybe that was why I was farting so much.  I cut milk out of my diet and the farting situation improved.  From that moment on I’ve pretty much only use nut based or lactose free milk if I eat cereal.  And before you ask, no I don’t  “just drink” milk.  That’s fucking disgusting.  Not even when I was oblivious to my fart problems did I ever just straight up drink a glass of milk.  That’s not part of my intolerance, or from my dad because he still will just chug a glass of milk.  I think it might be associated with my next category: Dairy foods. 

Dairy Foods:  I love most, what I call normal cheeses. You know the ones you can get on a sandwich at a deli.   Cheddar, Jack, American, provolone, mozzarella. Even gouda, especially smoked gouda, Muenster and the occasional Havarti.  Never Swiss tho.  Fuck that shit.  Here’s where my DNA kicks in.  I think whatever flavor is in swiss and cheeses like feta, chèvre and other pungent cheese like that is amplified in my mouth and to me much of it tastes like vomit.  Literal stomach acid bile flavor.   There are a ton of other cheeses like Brie and Bleu Cheese type cheese that I either know or think tastes like cheese I already don’t like or it just looks weird and I’ve made an irrational decision to stay away.  Cream cheese for sure is a nope. Including anything made with it, including Cheese Cake.  Sorry, yea.  Part instinct, part being raised by a super taster.    So if it stinks or smells sour I’m out.  I’ll tolerate some cheeses that are in the Swiss cheese spectrum but I still can taste the barf a little bit. 
People really seem to love some of this shit so it sucks too feel like I’m missing out on a good time.  It just tastes like puke to me. 

Another realm of dairy that I’ve completely  cut from my life are things like Sour Cream and salad dressings that are basically sour cream with flavoring in them.  Ranch?  Nice try,  that’s sour cream.  If it’s creamy, white and dairy but not whipped cream or a desserts I most likely will not eat it.  Part of  is knowing it’s gonna taste like shit, or fear that it could.   Yogurt is a weird one.  Most of the time I’m ok with pre-packaged fruit flavored yogurt but plain is gross.  I used to eat cottage cheese as a kid a lot but I really don’t like it anymore.

I mentioned earlier I don’t like Cheesecake. I also said desserts were ok. Ice cream, milk shakes, etc obviously is totally good but I don’t really like cheesecake and I’ve never had a Canoli but I’ll probably never try one because of the cheese factor. Any other weird cheese shit in a dessert or other balsamic ice cream topping bullshit I’ll never eat either. 
Short story about cheesecake tho.  A few years ago I had to get a tooth pulled and an implant put in.  Part of that process is having cadaver bone grafted into the socket so they have something to mount the implant too.  Yes, dead person bone.  While I was healing I could only eat soft food.  I showed up late to a party and the only food that was left was cheesecake.  I helped myself with the intention of only slurping up the whipped cream topping. But I was hungry and slowly started trying the cheese parts.  I was surprised that it didn’t taste horrible and ended up finishing off 2 slices (not the crust tho because of the surgery).  It was probably because this particular cheesecake was homemade by one of the best bakers in the county.  My girlfriend likes to joke that it was the cadaver bone.  Whoever’s bone I had in me was a fan of cheesecake and their soul was somehow now merged with mine.  I’m not as afraid of cheesecake as I was but still cautious. 

You’re probably wondering about my lactose allergy and all this cheese I like.  Well, some dairy food does not really affect me as much as a bowl of milk does.  After a hard pizza binge I could end up on the toilet for the rest of the night but it’s pizza.  Pizza, ice cream, deli sandwich, totally worth it.  Yogurt and cottage cheese, not so much.  I gotta pick my battles.  Before, I mentioned Ranch dressing, which brings me to my next category. 

  Dressings & Condiments:   Ranch got really popular in the 90’s and people started putting it on, and dipping just about everything into it.  I didn’t know exactly what Ranch was but I knew it smelled funny and was most likely made out of Sour Cream or Mayonnaise.  So no Ranch.   No dressings at all for that matter.   Spoiler, I hate pretty much everything made with vinegar too.   But since I mentioned Mayo, lets talk a little about condiments.  I love mustard but I hate vinegar so how is this possible?  Something about the balance of spices and artificial flavors that evens it out for me.  Same with Dill Pickles.  I love the things but put a sweet pickle, relish or any other pickled thing that they add sugar too in front of me and I’ll stab a motherfucker.   But back to condiments,  I’ve hated mayo my whole entire life but I can’t say for sure I’ve ever actually eaten it on purpose.  It’s just another one of those things I was raised to not like.  My dad hated it so in turn, fuck Mayo forever.   When I have eaten it on something by accident I honestly don’t feel like it had any distinct flavor at all.  Just pointless, greasy, white goop subconsciously fucking with me.  Don’t try to fool me by calling it Aioli.  That’s just flavored Mayo. Along with many other dips and dressings and toppings that are just Mayo with flavorings in it.  This brings me back to salad dressing for a minute.  I don’t put any salad dressing on my salad.  People lose their shit when I say this and ask "WeLL wHuuT dO YoU PuT oN YeR SaLaD?!?!"  I put, shredded cheddar, bacon bits, croutons, olives, onions.  I like the taste of iceberg lettuce and my salads are fucking delicious. No one ever has all that stuff so I never order a salad with my meal unless there's a salad bar.   I am convinced that people don't actually  like salad.  They hate lettuce and vegetables so they drench it in gross fattening sauces.  I wont eat any of the dressings not French, not Russian, not Vinaigrette, not Ranch of course, not even Honey Mustard.  People assume that because I like mustard that I like Honey Mustard. I don't know what that shit is but it aint mustard.   Thousand Island is another salad dressing I wont put on my salad but it was introduced to me as a kid as “Secret Sauce” on hamburgers and I really enjoyed it.  Then as I got older people told me it was actually Thousand Island dressing and that it was essentially Ketchup and Mayo mixed together.  That physically repulses me to think about but for some reason my taste buds are ok with it as long as it’s a secret and on a burger. You can  call it “spread” like they do at In N Out too and that's fine.  

Also, Animal Style Fries!

On the topic of salads and mayonnaise I won't go near macaroni or potato salad.  It's just cold dinner leftovers mixed with mayo.  It's not salad.  Throw it in the garbage. 

Ok, back to vinegar for a second.  Oh hell lets make it a category.

Who ruined the Olive Oil?
Vinegar: It’s in a lot of foods that people really like.  But I can smell or taste it a mile away.  And Balsamic Vinegar can fuck off too.  “Oohh its just like Chocolate put it on ice cream”  die you psychopath.  Are you not smelling that?  or hey just drink Apple Cider Vinegar to make you feel better.. NO!  Some people even use it to clean their coffee maker.... WHAT?   It smells like the feet of someone with a glandular disorder.  No!  So pretty much most pickled things, dressings and a lot of sauces are off the table for me.   My dad may play a part in this he says food with an overbearing vinegar flavor has a “wang to it”  that sour tinge in the side of your neck when you taste it.  Maybe it’s the DNA talking again but I know what he’s saying.  But I like dill pickles and olives so I dunno.  Again maybe it's the balance of flavors? Part of this could stem from some dumb kid science experiments I did in the alley behind our garage.  Me and my friend learned about the baking soda and vinegar volcano and made a huge mess.  I swear it smelled like vinegar back there for like 20 years.  

Some have said that it’s the vinegar in my next category that makes me not like it but it’s way, way deeper than that. 
Ketchup:  If you’ve known me for more than a minute you’ve probably been waiting for this part of my list. It’s technically a subcategory of condiments but it deserves it’s own category and you’ll see why in a second…and just to be clear, I’ve never associated Ketchup with vinegar so don’t think that has anything to do with it.   Now, this is not just a casual  dislike of a common condiment or even hatred at this point.   I have what has developed into what I think is a full-blown phobia.  The smell, the texture, the reddish translucence,  even the shape of the classic Heinz bottle makes me nervous and uncomfortable.  My whole family ate and enjoyed this stuff growing up so there’s no genetic or family influences going on here. I think it’s more psychological trauma from an event in my childhood that is the base of my aversion to America’s favorite condiment.  Just like most kids I happily dipped my French fries in the stuff until something happened.   It was a hot summer day in the mid 1980’s.   My family and I wen’t to see the San Francisco Giants play at Candlestick Park.  It was kind of a big deal for me.  I’d only been to one other game that I can remember before that and it was a night game.  A day game on a sunny San Francisco day was a whole different experience.  The grass smelled different.  Everything was brighter, people were out of their seats enjoying the stadium.   We decided at one point to get hot dogs.  The perfect meal for a baseball game.  My parents wanted beers of course so I went with my dad to the concession stand.  I was in awe, taking in all the sights and smells.  A professional baseball stadium has a very distinct aroma that conjures up all kinds of great memories for me now as an adult.   But one specific odor has haunted me my whole life.   On our way back to our seats, both hands full with a hotdog for me and one for my brother I was just a dumb kid awestruck by my surroundings, I stepped
on a full, hot ketchup packet that some asshole threw on the ground.   It popped open and squirted all over my shoes and my pants.  I didn’t even notice until we got back to our seats and it had time to cook in the direct summer sun.  I kept smelling it like maybe I had it spilled some on my hand or my shirt from my own hotdog.  At one point I went with my dad to the bathroom and made sure to try to wash my hands to get it off but for the next few hours I kept smelling it.  Finally I realized it was coming from my feet and lower legs and after sitting there with it all that time I had spread it all over the ground under me and the seat in front of me and smeared all over my pants and shoes.  The smell, hot and baked into the fabric was one of the worst things ever.  I was so upset and it was all I could think about and I don’t even remember the rest of the game or the day.  Ketchup took that whole wonderful experience from me.  Ever since then I just really have not liked Ketchup.  The older I got the more it became a thing.  Ketchup bottles on every restaurant table, every fast food order they give you PACKETS of ketchup without even asking you.  Every time I order a hamburger, I always make sure to say “no ketchup” then they still ask if I want some for my fries…  really?  Just about every person around me putting it on fries and burgers and hotdogs.  Always being offered ketchup.   All I know is that Ketchup really fucks with me emotionally now.  I play it off like I just don’t  like the flavor but its way deeper than that.     

Anything that’s mildly close to Ketchup is also off the table.  Sweet & Sour Sauce is a no-no.  Most hot sauces are just spicy ketchup to me.  Some Barbecue sauces lean ketchup too.  Basically anything red with a vinegar/sweet flavor is out of the question.   One time I was at a diner back home having breakfast and asked if they had salsa to put on my hash browns.  Nine out of ten times they pick up the bottle of Tabasco on the table and give it to me.  I decline, and ask for salsa, not hot sauce. Tabasco, as with most hot sauce is just vinegar with chili powder in it. Fucking nightmare in a bottle.    Most of the time they bring me a little cup of Pace Picante or similar off the shelf stuff.  Which is not as good as home-made but acceptable.  The waitress said they had Tabasco, as I expected and when I asked again for salsa she paused and said “be right back” .   She comes back with a cup with something red in it.  Whenever I get salsa, or sauces I give a quick smell test.  Usually testing for vinegar or ketchup essence.  This time I got a hard ketchup vibe and then did a visual inspection.   Instead of salsa this piece of shit gave me a cup of ketchup with black pepper and chopped up onions in it.   I almost barfed all over the table.  It’s things like this that push me farther into my psychosis. 

Seafood:  Another thing that I get from my dad ether directly or indirectly is my dislike for seafood.  We never really had fish or seafood around other than fish sticks or fried prawns with Chinese food.  Fried prawns are essentially fish sticks anyway.  So I’ve never eaten crab,  lobster, oysters, most fish.  I’ve eaten shrimp in several different forms.  Depends on how it’s cooked.  I mean if you drench dog shit in garlic, butter and bacon it’s gonna be tolerable right?  I think a lot of this stuff actually does taste like shit which is why it’s cooked
in crazy spices or garlic butter all the time.  I also have a theory that much of this stuff, like oysters was at one time the only source of food but since it was considered food for people over time it became a part of our cuisine even tho it tastes like shit and probably should not even be eaten because we have better easier food available.  It’s just how my dumb brain works.  I’ve tried some fish and calamari and it just has this distinct seafood flavor to me that I don’t like. It tastes like it smells to me. Like rotting fish guts mixed with stagnant creek water.  This is definitely part of my super taster genes.  I can pinpoint that flavor in a lot of foods and a lot of people really like it but to me, it’s off-putting.  Sauces and even those seaweed sushi wraps throw me off.   Some people hate cilantro,  I love it.  But that is genetic.  They taste it a certain way and say it tastes like soap.  Sucks for them because they’ll never like cilantro.  It’s coded into them just like vomit cheese and pond water seafood flavor to me.  So because of this I just tend to stay away from seafood.  Plus it’s just gross looking.  Seafood is one of the only foods that look like the animal still when they serve it to you.   Also some places the shit’s still alive.  What the fuck is that about?  

Mushrooms:  I’ll keep this one short.  Two anecdotes that I think are apt here.  A friend recalled a conversation they had with someone when I mentioned I didn’t like mushrooms.  They said that they didn’t like mushrooms and didn’t like what they were about.  She asked what were they about,  they answered “they’re fuckin’ fungus man”   Agree with that statement.  Fungus should not be eaten. They sell products at the pharmacy to kill fungus.  My dog agrees.  My dog will eat anything I drop on the floor, except for mushrooms.  He’ll pick it up and then spit it right out.  It’s because he knows by some natural connection to the earth that animals have. He knows that fungus is not food.  Fungus is somewhere between plant and human being.  There’s an intelligence at work there which is another reason not to fuck with it. 

These are the main ones I can think of at the moment.  To be continued…. wash your hands, go to bed. 

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