Monday, October 31, 2016

The Spirit of the Day

When I was a small child, I was very shy & did not like to be with other adults, other than my parents. The only other adult that I felt at ease with was my elderly aunt. She was my mother's eldest sibling, & she was all ready old by the time I was born. She was very relaxed, laughed a lot, & she always made me feel safe & comfortable. She put me at ease & made me feel loved & protected.

She was an amazing cook, & she always fixed me a plate of my favorite foods. That was wonderful for a picky eater like me. While other adults & my own older siblings tried to get me to eat different foods, my aunt just let me be & made a real effort to make me my favorites. I loved that about her. I could just be myself & know that she loved me & cared for me. I didn't know my grandmothers or grandfathers. But my elderly aunt was the eldest living relative that I knew & loved very much.

But perhaps my favorite thing about my aunt was that she was a gifted confectioner. She made amazing & delicious sweets & candies. And whenever she visited us or we visited her, she always had candy & treats for us. Her house always smelled delicious & sweet, like a bakery with freshly made cookies or cakes & pies. And chances were, she had those treats made just for us to enjoy. So we all loved visiting her or having her come stay with us. And every time we hugged her, we smelled sweet spices like cinnamon & cloves & vanilla on her. She was as sweet & wonderful as the delicious treats she made.

So when I turned six, it was very difficult for me to understand & accept that my beloved aunt had passed away. I knew that something was wrong, when I woke up one morning & wandered into the kitchen to find my father comforting my mother at the kitchen table. She looked as if she had been crying. Her eyes were red. My older siblings present at the table were also crying. I didn't understand what was going on, & it was alarming to see my normally boisterous older brothers & sisters appear so somber & crying.

My parents noticed me then & waved for me to come over. My father picked me up & sat me on his lap while my mother ran her hands through my hair, stroked my face, then gently told me that my elderly aunt, her eldest sister, had passed away in her sleep. Her children found her still in bed after she did not come out for breakfast. My aunt was an early riser & always made breakfast--it was a trait all farmers & farming families had.

Early risers were necessary to get the work started before the sun got too hot to do any more work on the farm. Farming was a hard living, but it was also rewarding & necessary, & it made for some good living & kept us well fed, well housed, & always close to each other, because we needed each other & had to work together to make the farm successful.

The next few days were a blur & whirlwind of activity as my family got busy making preparations for my aunt's funeral. A lot of people were coming. A lot of people knew & loved my aunt for the very reasons we loved her--she was kind, helpful, & she always treated people well & looked out for their well being. We made lots of preparations for the many people who would come for my aunt's funeral & stay with us to mourn her loss. We cleaned up the farmhouse, the bunkhouse, & even the small workshop was cleared of debris & tools were locked up so we could set up cots to handle the overflow. And sure enough, our house, the bunkhouse, & the workshop were filled to capacity with so many people coming to say goodbye to our aunt.

It felt strange yet also comforting having so many people over at our farm. Ordinarily, I shied away from strangers & other adults. And most of these people were strangers to me or unfamiliar relatives. But they were too busy making preparations, working, & reconnecting to each other to take notice of me. It was as if I was invisible in their presence, so long as I was very still & kept out of their way. And as a small shy child, I was quite gifted at staying hidden & out of the way.

I watched them closely, fascinated with their interactions & behaviors. They laughed, they cried, they teased each other, & they even had brief arguments that seem very heated one moment, only to cool off the next. The sang. They danced. They told stories of my aunt & their own lives. And sometimes, they were silent, each lost in their own thoughts, just quietly keeping each other company.

Sometimes, I couldn't relate to nor understand what they were talking about. I was witnessing & hearing things only adults could comprehend from their life experiences. I hadn't lived long enough to understand their words & meanings. But I did know enough to realize that what they shared was important, & what they spoke of was for adult ears only. Still, I stayed hidden & listened, mesmerized by the rhythm of life that pulsed from them as they went about the day, doing their tasks, telling their stories, sharing their thoughts & ideas & feelings.

Soon enough, the day of my aunt's funeral came closer, & with it came many visitors & mourners. And there was much wailing & grieving amongst the busy work that kept us going to host the many who came for the funeral. So much food & drinks were served. Even my older brother & I were tasked with helping to serve some of the guests. Most times, we were messengers between the family heads who greeted the guests & the large family crew that ran the kitchen & outdoor grills to keep the guests & family fed.

And in the few times my brother & I weren't busy being messengers, we were with our five year old baby brother & other small children. We were all sequestered in the bunkhouse, out of sight & out of the way, under the watchful eye & care of elder siblings or cousins, who made sure to feed us, keep us safe, & kept us away from the busy activities surrounding my elderly aunt's funeral. The week leading up to the actual funeral was full of activity, & the crowds got bigger as people kept arriving from near & far to bid my aunt farewell.

In her younger days, my aunt was a teacher. In fact, she was the first local teacher in the area who ran a one room schoolhouse that taught all grades from first to eighth. It was quite an accomplishment, the first in our family to graduate college. She taught her small one room school until enough people moved into the area & the district & county lines were redrawn to warrant building our own elementary school. She taught for several years & advanced to school principal, one of the youngest ever to hold the post.

Then she met a missionary doing work in our area, got married to him a year later, & soon they were off to distant & foreign lands doing missionary relief work. Most of their children were born overseas in those foreign lands where they worked with the poor, refugees, & those seeking a better life after escaping from harsh tyranny & war torn countries.

After twenty years of working overseas, they retired back to our farm community. They were the pride & joy of the region, because they were world travelers & they did the Lord's work, aiding those in need. Having survived various conflicts & disasters, they were looked upon as leaders in times of crisis or when natural (& unnatural) disasters struck the area. They even negotiated for workers to get them better, fair working wages when they went on strike against the regional gov't. Their success & fairness led to them being asked to mediate several large regional disputes between other workers & large employers or even different districts battling over limited gov't funds.

And when they retired from civic duties, my uncle took to gardening & leading the neighborhood clean up committee--helping to eliminate litter & end improper hazardous waste disposal. And my aunt took up teaching again, this time it was for preschool four & five year olds. My eldest siblings were among the last students she taught before she & her husband finally fully retired from the community & stepped down from all their leadership roles. They were content to let others lead & spend their days with family, entertaining grandchildren & nieces & nephews & all children from the area.

So given their history & the work they did, it was no surprise that so many people came to my aunt's funeral. Former students, people they assisted & ministered to overseas & at home, workers they fought for, gov't officials, business leaders, civic leaders & organizations, & so many others who felt my aunt & uncle's positive effect on their lives came to pay their respect.

Many of them also came for my uncle's passing several years before. He passed away before I was born. In fact, he passed away shortly after my year older brother was born. We were told that he was ecstatic to learn that my brother was named after him. There is a great picture on the living room wall of my proud, happy uncle holding my infant brother in his arms, standing among the flowers & fruits of his blooming garden. My uncle passed away peacefully, sitting on the back porch, gazing at his beautiful, bountiful garden.

The funeral for my aunt was full of people who came near & far to pay their respects. Her funeral, like my uncle's, had been held at our farm because we had the space & accommodation to handle so many people. It seemed like we were open 24 hours a day, with people arriving at all sorts of different hours. The fires in the kitchen & grills kept burning as food production went on continuously to feed the masses.

Our house, bunkhouse, & workshop were filled to capacity with so many visitors looking for a place to rest after a long journey. Even our outdoor open pavilion & gazebo were full of people who didn't mind the clean, cool, open air accommodations & sleeping in sleeping bags or on floor futons. The weather was lovely, so we didn't have to worry about the heat nor humidity. And the general atmosphere, though it was for a funeral, was nonetheless very genial & friendly & comforting. Everyone was welcomed. Everyone got fed & had a place to stay. Everyone worked together & united in our love for my aunt.

Funerals were among the biggest events in our community, especially when it involved the loss of one of the community's most beloved members. So it was natural that funerals were week long affairs that involved so many people & rituals & customs meant to comfort the living, strengthen our ties, & bid farewell to those we had lost. It was a lot of work & expensive, but it was also necessary to honor our loved ones & help us move on as a family, as a community, & as a people. Death was a natural part of life. It was the next step to the next world, & sooner or later, we all make that journey to the other side, where our loved one who had gone before us await our arrival.

It was a lovely & heartfelt funeral for my aunt. And when it was all over & the people had all left to return to their homes, it suddenly seemed too quiet, too empty, too lonely to be on the farm. It was strange to wake up those days afterwards to silence. No loud laughter from the visitors, no noise nor activity in the kitchen, the outdoors grills were cold with no fires burning, nor were there meats nor vegetables roasting. No songs from the masses to entertain or comfort us. No stories being shared about life lessons & experiences. No messages to pass to & from the family heads & the crews who kept the masses fed, housed, & cared for during the funeral event.

The farm felt strangely empty. It felt weird to long for noise & people, especially from a shy kid like me who hated attention. But it wasn't attention that I was missing. It was the rhythm of life that once beat so strongly & pulsed everyday we had those crowds at our farm. The world felt much more alive with the noises & activities & the hustle & bustle of so many. Now, it all seemed too quiet, too still, as if my mind had awoken before my body, & I felt stuck, paralyzed, not in control.

In a few days, I got used to the quiet again. Eventually, the rhythm of the farm came back to me, & it felt like home again. But I never really got over missing my aunt, & I still had not processed that she was gone. I still woke up wondering what she was doing or if she would visit soon & bring us treats. I woke up wanting to go see her at her house, only to be reminded by my parents & siblings that my aunt was gone. Still, a part of me refused to accept this. I couldn't understand how she could just be gone. Somehow, I felt like she was still with us.

A month later, it was Halloween. Our church & culture celebrated Halloween & the first & second day of November as part of a feast to honor & remember our dead & dearly departed. It was a mishmash of old native beliefs that the missionaries who came to our shores could not suppress. And the ancient rites & rituals were soon incorporated into the religion the missionaries brought. Christianity is very good at absorbing pagan beliefs & customs--if they can't erase it, then they adopt it.

Just look at Christmas & Easter & all their holiday customs. This flexibility allowed Christianity to take hold. And it led to ancient cultures & customs being kept alive by the natives who hold these core beliefs that are sacred & essential to their identities. Adaptation allowed for the survival of both ancient beliefs & Christianity. It may look weird & confusing to outsiders, but for the local people who've incorporated ancient culture with Christianity, it feels right.

The idea was that during the three days of the harvest festival, from 31 October to the 1st & 2nd of November, we would hold a feast to remember & honor all our passed loved ones. The spirits of the dead would often walk among us, in dreams & in real life. They would come to help us, protect us, & watch over us. While evil spirits & harmful demons & vicious gods were to be feared, during the festival, we had nothing to fear, because the spirits of our loved ones protected us & kept us safe. Besides, it was common knowledge where the evil spirits & harmful demons & vicious gods dwelled. And so long as we avoided those places & did not disturb those entities, then we had nothing to fear.

A month after my aunt passed away, my church decided to have an evening service to honor our dead. That was unusual. Usually, the service was held in the morning. This second evening service was an experiment to engage the youth & kids. The idea was that after the service, the Sunday school teachers would lead us kids in a group to go trick or treating in the neighborhood. Then we'd all go back to the church hall for snacks & a sanctioned party for the teens & kids.

It was the church's effort to hold on to the youth, most of whom were going to parties with their friends or to other churches that held bigger, more festive Halloween carnivals. It wasn't so much a battle for our souls rather it was a battle for numbers, to hold on to the younger generations & increase the church following (& donations); it was an effort to keep or increase the church's power as it competed with other churches for followers.

I was not happy with this arrangement. I never liked going to church services. We all ready went to too many. And I never felt anything remotely spiritual or even formed a connection to the church. It was all business. Even as a small child, I knew that this church focused more on material matters than spiritual.

Most of the church services & activities focused on raising money for the church, with routine donations & offering reports that made the church seem more like a bank or business than a place of worship & fellowship. And most of the money went into making the church appear more opulent--more statues, more shiny gilding, bigger pulpit & plushier carpeting. It bothered me that most of the money went to bling for the church instead of actually helping people in need.

And it really bothered me that instead of going trick or treating with my two brothers early, we had to go to church service that took an hour of prime trick or treating time! Ugh! By the time the long, boring service was over, I was getting restless & frustrated, especially when I looked out the window & saw groups of kids all ready collecting candy! Normally at church, I kept a low profile & kept my head down. But this time, I was getting anxious & kind of irritated when the service finally let out & we were lined up by class by our Sunday school teachers.

Our group leaders were two young adult women, still teens, & a slightly older woman. At the first few houses, they kept us in a group. But by the fourth house, we started complaining at how long it took to get everyone lined up & go to the next house. The leaders were getting irritated, too. So they let us move ahead to the other houses after we got our candy while the others waited their turn for their candy treat. Pretty soon, we all split apart so we could canvas the neighborhood thoroughly for treats.

I was so thrilled & fired up collecting as much candy as possible that I suddenly found myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I had been following some kids in costume, thinking that they were from my group. But when we got to that last street, they took off their masks & I realized that they were strangers! And by now, the sun had set & the street lights came on. I went ahead & collected all the candy I could from this street. Then, with a heavy bag full of candy, I turned around & tried to find my way back to my group. Except, when I got to the end of the street, I didn't know where to turn or which direction to go.

By now, it was starting to get late. I had a really heavy load of candy from doubling back to some of the houses I had recognized from trick or treating earlier. But as I tried to find my way back, some of the houses started turning off their porch lights, the signal that they were out of candy. Now I was getting worried.

I found myself at the corner of a street that I didn't recognize in the dark. Places & objects look so much different in the night from what they look like in the day. And while there was a small chance that I might've recognized the streets & landmarks during the day, at night, the whole area was unfamiliar & starting to creep me out. I was starting to panic. The streets were starting to get empty as the kids & adults were done trick or treating for the night. I was starting to get scared.

Suddenly, I felt someone next to me. My heart was beating so fast & my breathing was starting to increase. I was too scared to move & was desperate to get home. Suddenly, I smelled a unique & particular scent in the air. And then I felt someone standing next to me & I looked up at them. I was surprised, let out as gasp, & suddenly felt overwhelmed as they took my hand in the darkness.

In the meantime, my two brothers had raised a ruckus when they realized that I was not with them. The two of them had ended up near my eldest sister, who was assisting with another group. By then, my group had scattered & the leaders didn't care or noticed that we were gone. Upon seeing our eldest sister, my two brothers called out to her & ran to her to report that I was lost.

Alarmed, my sister left her group in the capable hands of the other two leaders & took my two brothers to track down our leaders. She confronted them & demanded to know where I was. The leaders at first denied that I was lost, but they couldn't account for my whereabouts. Then they tried to pass it off that I wasn't with their group to begin with, but my two brothers & friends in the group adamantly argued that I was with the group at the beginning before we all scattered.

By now, my sister was furious at the negligence of the leaders & actually threatened to beat them up! Other group leaders converged on the scene & were alarmed to discover that several of the kids in my group were missing! By now, my baby brother started crying. He was frightened, so my sister decided to take him & my older brother home while the rest of the leaders looked for us missing kids. She would tell our parents what had happened after dropping my brothers off at home, & she'd rejoin the search party for the missing kids, recruiting any of my other older siblings into the search effort.

On the way home, she hurried along in the dark street, carrying my sobbing baby brother, trying to comfort him while my older brother held on to their bags of candy. She was frantically trying not to panic & comfort my brothers at the same time. And she dreaded telling my family the distressing news.

When she reached the turn off to our farm at the end of the road, she noticed some people coming from the opposite way. What she saw made her gasp & stop. Then she ran as quickly as she could towards those people, followed closely by my older brother as she cradled my baby brother in her arms.

Later on that evening, the search party was called off. All the missing kids were eventually found. Some of them found their own way home. Others found themselves in other groups whose leaders recognized them & took them under their care. And me? Well, before the night was over, I had told my story at least five times. The first three times were for my panicked family. The last two times were for the neighbors & community & church leaders who were eager to calm my family & curious to learn what had happened to me.

I told them how I thought I was with the group, following some kids who wore the same masks & costumes as some of the kids in my group. And I was so eager to make up for that candy collection hour we lost to the church service that I didn't realize that we had gone far to the other neighborhoods, way outside of our district! I was much too focused on getting as much candy as possible & was having a really fun time.

It wasn't until we got to the last street in an unfamiliar neighborhood that I learned that the kids I was with were not from my group. I didn't recognize them when they took off their masks & made their way home. It was getting dark. Some of the houses were turning off their lights, & the street lights were coming on. Soon, it got dark & the streets were getting empty. I realized that I was lost, & I had no idea where to go.

I was getting scared & starting to panic when I suddenly felt someone near me in the darkness. At first, I couldn't see their face, just a form in the darkness. Then I smelled them. And I recognized that smell--cinnamon, cloves, & vanilla. Before I knew it, they took my hand. And when they came into the light, I recognized the face. It was my aunt! She had come to take me home!

I felt so happy to see my aunt again. I hugged her tight & told her how much I missed her! On the way home, I told her all that had happened since I last saw her. I told her that so many people came to her funeral & stayed with us. I told her about what we had been up to since she left. And when I asked her where she had been, she just smiled & said that she was with my uncle now, & she decided to come visit us, because she missed us, too. And she could tell that I needed help. I smiled at her as we held hands & walked home that night. Along the way, there were a few more houses with the lights still on, so we knocked on those doors for trick or treat & soon were rewarded with lots of candy. My bag was overflowing with candy. It was such a great haul--the best I ever had!

When we got near our street, I was starting to recognize the neighborhood. Soon enough, we made it to the turn off that ended at our farm. My aunt stopped. She bent down & told me how much she loved me & my family. She told me not to be afraid. She told me to look at the opposite end of the street. I saw some people coming from there. And I soon recognized my eldest sister carrying my baby brother & my year older brother following close behind. My aunt stood back up, she smiled, & she waved at my sister & brothers. They ran towards us. But by the time they reached us, my aunt was gone.

My sister & brothers & I looked for our aunt, but she was gone. My sister & brothers tell that they really did see my aunt, that she smiled & waved at them. That when they crossed the street to meet us, our aunt faded away with a smile on her face. The only thing left was the scent of cinnamon, cloves, & vanilla. After spending a few minutes looking for our aunt, my sister decided that it was time to go home. She called the church to let them know that I had been located & brought home safely.

She then relayed the story of what had happened, which at first alarmed my parents & family & visiting neighbors. But by the end of her tale, word had gone out about what had gone down, & lots of people came over to our house to hear the telling & retelling of our adventure that night.

My parents were relieved that I was safe. And we held a prayer to thank my aunt & the spirits of our family for guiding us & protecting us. That night, I split my share of the candy with my brothers & family. Candy is so much sweeter & tastier when shared among loved ones. That was also the last time my parents entrusted us to the care of the church for activities. From now on, only our elder siblings could be trusted to keep us safe & from wandering off.

Over the years, many people have come to us & asked if this story is true. To them, I can only say that what happened to me happened exactly as I told it. Some people doubt me, especially those who don't know me well or didn't grow up with me. But that's okay. It's natural to have doubts about things you don't understand nor believe in. Some things you have to take on faith. Some things you have to experience on your own to truly understand & believe.

And the point of the story is not whether ghosts are real or not. The important lesson is that I was lost but then was found & safely taken home. It's important to know that my family looked for me & loved me & cared for me. This isn't a story about spirits or the afterlife.

This story is about the importance of family & love. We should be kinder & nicer to each other while we are still alive. We should tell our loved ones just how much they mean to us & how much we love them. We must embrace our loved ones & live life as fully & as happily as we can. Because life is short, & we shouldn't wait for a funeral to tell someone that has passed on how much we love them. We should wake up each day & cherish our loved ones & do the things that make us happy & be with the ones we love. That is the spirit of the day. It's about family, & it's about love.

So this holiday, I hope that you're with loved ones. I hope you tell them how much they mean to you, how important they are in your life. I hope you get to spend time with them, doing the things that make you all happy. And I hope that you have delicious treats to enjoy & share with those you love & hold most dear. Happy Halloween. Happy Festival of Remembrance. Happy Gathering with Friends & Loved Ones.

Related Links:
A sailor in the fields, a treasure in the trees
The Boys of Summer
Brothers and Sisters
Tradition
A good jacket keeps you warm
Hope is a yellow dump truck
Shoes
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
Finding the way
The thing about fathers
Veterans Day Reflection
Best Laid Plans
That offal taste
The Fisherman & the Lucky Cat


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Difference Between Parsley & Cilantro

It's happened to you before. You're standing in front of the produce & herb aisle, trying to figure out, is this green bundle of small leaves parsley or cilantro? The sign says parsley but you can't be sure, because right next to the parsley sign is the cilantro sign! And it's a grocery store, so you know that customers are always picking items up, thinking about buying them, only to change their mind, & then putting down the item somewhere totally different, even another aisle!

Why? Because people are lazy, & whether they admit to it or not, it's kind of a power trip to leave items in different places, because it's someone else--usually an underpaid worker, not you--who has to take that item back to where it belongs.

So you can't be sure if that green bundle of tiny leaves is actually parsley or misplaced cilantro. You could ask the produce stocker, but they look frazzled & you can't be sure if you can trust their judgement--particularly if it's some scrawny teen, who's either shy, inexperienced, or unhelpful; or probably someone who couldn't care less, just itching for the next smoke break, watching the clock til it's time to punch out & party or just get the heck out of there.

You could try sniffing it. Cilantro has that pungent odor, more overpowering than parsley. But you can't trust your sense of smell. And it's cold & flu season, so gawd only knows what filthy, disgusting, germ ridden, runny nose, phlegmy people have coughed on or handled that green bunch of herbs with their dirty, unwashed, booger encrusted, body scratching, sweaty, grimy fingers. So for your health's sake, take precautions & sniff at your own risk.

And it's not just the grocery store. At a restaurant or cafe or at a meal or social gathering, you notice the green leaves in your soup, or mixed prominently into the salad, or sprinkled liberally on your fish taco. You wonder, is that parsley or cilantro? And more importantly, does it matter?

Yes, it matters! It matters a lot, especially if you hate cilantro, like me! I hate the soapy, disgusting flavor of cilantro! It ruins the dish for me. Once it gets into the food, the entire dish tastes like soap! Actual lather forming, slippery, bubbly, eye stinging, repulsive tasting soap! So hell yeah, it matters a lot trying to figure out if those tiny leaves are delicious parsley or poisonous cilantro!

As someone who despises the revolting taste of cilantro, you only have to buy a bundle by mistake just one time to learn a very important lesson. Actually, in my case, it was two very important lessons. Lesson one: Just because the grocery staffer works in produce is no guarantee that they'll know the difference between parsley & cilantro.

And it's misleading & confusing handling cilantro, especially when it's misnamed Chinese parsley--trust me, there ain't nothing Chinese nor parsley about cilantro! And in other places, it's called coriander. Whatever it's called, it always tastes disgusting to me.

Lesson two: There is a subtle but very significant difference between parsley & cilantro. And I'm going to share that subtle but definitive difference between parsley & cilantro. It's very simple. Blink & you'll miss it, so pay attention:

Parsley has pointy leaves. Look closely at the pointed tips.

Cilantro/Coriander has curvy leaves. See the rounded tips?

Just remember: Pointy Parsley leaves vs Curvy Cilantro leaves.

And here's where I confess to using a very powerful memory aid to remember the difference. Warning, I use explicit memory aids, because the more extreme the image, the better it sticks in my memory. So if you're sensitive to explicit/offensive imagery, then please, stop reading after this paragraph. Just remember that Parsley is pointy & Cilantro is curvy. P for Pointy Parsley, C for Curvy Cilantro.

Warning! Explicit Memory Aid follows:

To ensure that I never ever forget the difference between delicious parsley & vile cilantro, I just recall this explicit memory aid:

Parsley is Pointy. You know what else is pointy? A penis is pointy! So parsley is like a pointy penis. And penises are fun, like any seasoning, when used appropriately to enhance the pleasure of the experience.

Cilantro is curvy. Cilantro is the cunt Chlamydia of all herbs & spices! It's got a foul odor & causes a revolting reaction every time I am near it. It makes me want to throw up. Cilantro is the curvy, cunty, Chlamydia herb! And I never want to eat it!

And there you have it! The secret to telling the difference between parsley & cilantro. Now the next time you find yourself at the herb section of the grocery store, take a good look at those tiny green leaves bundles & you'll have no problems identifying parsley from cilantro. And as long as those leaves are intact & whole, you'll be able to spot whether that's parsley or cilantro topping your soup or sprinkled on your taco. Just look at them leaves & see if they belong to pointy parsley or curvy cilantro.

And if the leaves have been chopped up, then you're going to have to rely on three methods. They're less effective or more risky than spotting the whole leaves, but they do provide some measure of success.

One: If it's chopped up, then try to smell it first: Cilantro always smells more pungent than parsley. Two: Ask the cook! Did they use cilantro? A good cook always knows their ingredients. Finally: The surest yet most risky way to determine if that's chopped up parsley or cilantro spread on your meal, you're going to have to taste it.

If you're fine with both parsley & cilantro, then you should be okay. But if you hate the disgusting taste of cilantro, well, one small bite is the surest way to figure out if that taco is worth putting in your mouth & finishing it off with joy & satisfaction or just rinsing your mouth & walking away, feeling disgusted & hopefully much wiser.

And there you have it. The secret to identifying parsley & differentiating it from cilantro. It's all in the leaves. Parsley is Pointy, & Cilantro is Curvy. And I love parsley, but totally abhor cilantro! Remember the difference in the leaves between them & you'll never have a problem mixing up the two in the future.

Related Links
I Hate Cilantro

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Hate Cilantro

I hate cilantro. It is a most foul & gawd awful poison. It tastes like frakking soap! And if it's used in a food recipe, it makes the food taste like soap! What do I mean that it tastes like soap? I mean just that: It really does taste like soap! It's a genetic trait. Some people taste a nice herb when they eat cilantro, but others like me only taste revolting soap when we eat cilantro.

Ever wonder what soap tastes like? Then take a bar of soap & lick it real good. That gawd awful taste is exactly what cilantro tastes like to me! Soap! And I don't want to eat frakking soap! So please, when I tell you that I don't like cilantro, I mean it! I don't like cilantro! I frakking hate the soapy taste of cilantro!

It doesn't matter if cilantro is prepped raw, cooked, baked, fried, or grilled. However it's prepared, cilantro will always taste like soap to me, & it'll always ruin a dish for me, because the soapy flavor always comes through! Always!

I've had people try to trick me by not telling me that there was cilantro in the food, even when they know damn well that I don't like cilantro! They are under the mistaken delusion that I just never had cilantro the "right way"; somehow, they believe that the way they used cilantro not only enhances a dish, but would surely make me like cilantro. Wrong! The cilantro always, ALWAYS!, ruins the dish for me because the soap taste seeps into the entire dish!

And then they get upset when I stop eating their food! Hello! I told you that I don't like cilantro, & I meant it! A friend of mine got ticked when I stopped eating the food that she had spent all day making. She knows that I don't like cilantro, but she still tries in vain to change my mind about cilantro being the worst herb ever! But finally, fed up with my refusal to eat & frustrated with my hatred for cilantro, she asked me, "Why are you so damn picky? Why are you being so difficult with cilantro?"

So I answered, "Why are you trying to poison me? Wouldn't it be faster & less painful if you just put antifreeze in the wine or rat poison in the coffee?"

"Cilantro is not poison!", she said.

"It may as well be poison to someone like me who hates the taste of cilantro. Cilantro tastes like soap. And I don't want to eat soap! I'd much rather get hit in the face with a heavy cast iron pan than eat cilantro."

She replied, "Well, keep complaining about my food & you're going to feel my heavy cast iron pan hitting you in the face. Repeatedly!"

So I countered, "Well, then stop trying to poison me with cilantro & I'll stop complaining about the food. And your cast iron pan can stay in the kitchen where it belongs & not mar the natural, beautiful wonder that is my gorgeous face!"

The point I'm trying to make is that my hatred for cilantro is a natural, biological, innate response. I am genetically disposed to tasting soap in cilantro. It may seem like a silly thing, but you try licking a bar of soap, then keep licking that soap til it's all gone. It's going to taste awful! And you'll likely throw up after a few licks. And guess what? That's exactly how I feel everytime I taste cilantro. The first taste is terrible. Any second taste will likely make me throw up & vomit all that food out. It's a survival mechanism utilized by the body to get rid of allergens & toxins. And soap & soapy tasting objects are poisonous & toxic if ingested! And there is no getting around that! I was born this way.

I've written about this before. I had completely blocked out this memory from the horrible experience that I had the first time I ever ate food made with cilantro. It was many years ago when I was just a small child. I had forgotten about this experience until many years later when I was just out of my teens. Some friends & I tried some food at a new Thai place. Ordinarily, I liked Thai food. But there was something in this restaurant's food that made it taste weird & off putting to me. There was a soapy taste in all the dishes, & I didn't like that at all. I thought maybe it was the water they were using. But the glass of water I had at the restaurant tasted fine--like ordinary, clean water.

It wasn't until later on that when I tried to figure out why this particular Thai food tasted bad that I recalled where I first experienced that awful yet familiar, displeasing soapy taste. It was at a restaurant for a family lunch after a day of shopping with my mother & two of my closest brothers. The three of us boys were still toddlers. Mom ordered beef stew. I loved beef stew. It was one of our favorite dishes our Mom used to make, & my two brothers & I loved eating delicious beef stew!

But I was going to learn that not everyone makes an amazing beef stew like Mom. When the waitress brought our bowls of beef stew, my two brothers & I were so excited & couldn't wait to eat it. I remember taking one spoonful, then immediately spitting it back out onto my napkin, to the horror of my mother & shock of the waitress, all while my brothers laughed out loud at my reaction.

I remember looking at Mom & saying to her, "It tastes like soap!" & I was pretty adamant that someone had put soap in my food. I thought that maybe they didn't rinse the soap off the bowl when they washed it.

My Mom couldn't detect any soap in my stew, but she was kind enough to believe me, & she let me order a hamburger & fries instead.  My two brothers couldn't detect the soap either, so they eagerly divided what was left over from my bowl & chowed down.

Later that night, I overheard my Mom telling my Dad what had happened. I was a bit worried that Dad might not like how I reacted to the food. I was a picky eater when I was growing up. And at times, it did frustrate my family when it meant more work to make something that I would eat.

But to my surprise, my Dad laughed instead, & he guessed that I might be like his brother, who tasted soap whenever he had coriander. I didn't know it then, but coriander is the non-American name for cilantro! Later, I also found out the hard way that Chinese parsley is another name for the disgusting cilantro! It totally ruined a perfectly good take out shrimp stir fry for me. Coriander, cilantro, Chinese parsley, whatever you call it, it still tastes like soap & I really hate it!

It blows my mind how much overboard some people have gone with cilantro. This disgusting herb is being forced into all sorts of cuisines, totally ruining every dish it's in for me. I don't always understand this fanatical obsession people have with overusing certain ingredients, like green tea powder, hot chiles, & kale.

Green tea powder tastes awful; too many chiles make the food too spicy & ruins the taste; I want to enjoy the food, not burn my mouth; & kale is all right--it ain't all that. Fads come & go. I remember when sesame oil was all the rage, then came truffle oil. Honestly, they both were a little too overpowering for me. When it comes to powerful ingredients, a little goes a long way. And when it comes to cilantro, it's a "No, thank you" from me. Followed by an emphatic "Hell, no!" if you insist.

Whether it's in Asian or Mexican cuisine or even fine dining restaurants, cilantro ruins the food for me. So I always make a point to avoid it. It's not about being picky or being difficult. It's about avoiding a food that gives me a bad reaction. And tasting soap is a bad reaction. And I don't give a crap what other people say or the praises they have about cilantro, because to me, cilantro has & always will taste horrible to me. That's just the way I'm built.

People who don't have food intolerances or allergies may not understand this nor fully appreciate this. But when someone has a negative reaction to a particular food, it's probably best to respect that person's wish to avoid eating certain foods. For some, avoiding certain foods is a matter of religious or cultural beliefs. Or maybe some people choose not to eat certain foods, because they just feel like avoiding them. But for others, it may actually be a matter of life & death. Food allergies & intolerances can kill affected people.

Whatever the reason, we should respect other people's choices to avoid certain foods. Sharing a meal isn't just about having good food. It's about respecting other people & accepting that everyone has a choice. And if we want respect, then we should treat others with respect. We should treat each other the way that we want to be treated.

If you like cilantro, then go ahead & eat cilantro. But be mindful that others don't share your views. And if you're going to invite someone over to share a meal, then take into account any food allergies & restrictions that they may have. It's a hallmark of a good host to know their guests or at least make every reasonable effort to make the guests feel comfortable.

Sharing a meal is an opportunity to connect with, understand, & learn new things about others. It strengthens bonds & fosters new relationships. And yes, it's an opportunity to make new discoveries & try new things. It's good to encourage people to try new things, to help them broaden their horizons; but it's more important to respect people's choices.

Don't try to push people into uncomfortable positions. Don't try to force your views on others. Push too hard & you might suffer a severe blowback. People are different. Accept it. It'll make things a lot easier to deal with. That's life. Variety makes life interesting. Learn to listen. And accept that not everyone is going to share your views & tastes.

And when someone tells you that they don't like cilantro, then for gawd's sake, DON'T SERVE THEM CILANTRO!

Related Links
One night in Bangkok
That offal taste

Saturday, October 1, 2016

D lighted

I'm continuing my goal to finish my list of favorite things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Now I'm listing five favorite things that begin with the letter D. There are so many of my favorite things that begin with the letter D. So to make this list easier & simple, I'm going to list the first thing that pops into my mind.

I have to confess that when I started this list, the first five things popped up easily enough. But as if often the case with me, as I started writing, things got away from me, & I wrote whatever just flowed into my mind. So, as usual, I ended up with a novella when I aimed for a list. But I can't help it. It's just a part of my nature. Sometimes, when you're inspired, the ideas just keep pouring in. And when there's a rush of inspiration, it's best to just go with the flow. Because often times, it leads to the most unexpected & most surprising, amazing places.

But I'm keeping this list short. And the great volumes it inspired will be part of separate posts that can stand on their own merits. But for now, I'm keeping this simple. So here it is, my five favorite things that begin with the letter D:

1. Donuts!

That's right! Donuts! I love donuts--all flavors from lemon glazed to chocolate, strawberry, apple cinnamon, caramel, maple bacon--yes, maple & bacon!--even the donut burger--where donuts are used in place of buns for a delicious bacon cheese burger. Genius!

I've had all sorts of flavors, & I've loved them all. I've even made what I call a celestial chicken sandwich--a fried chicken sandwich using glazed donuts as the buns to hold the boneless, crispy, golden fried chicken thigh. It was absolutely divine & decadent! The contrast of sweet & savory, crunchy & airy, rich & soft, moist & tender made for an incredible explosion of scrumptious flavor, tasty texture, & was extraordinarily delicious!

One of the most beautiful sights in the world is the display shelves of a donut shop full of so many colorful & flavorful varieties of donuts--freshly baked, warm & fragrant. I consider any deep fried sweetened yeast dough made with frosting, jam, or a glaze a donut. That includes beignets, funnel cakes, & Berliners. Any yeast dough that is baked with custard, fruit jelly, or jam filling, I classify as a donut. So that includes Danishes & sweet kolaches.

Donuts are awesome treats. And as much as I love them & wish that I could eat them all the time, I actually have them as celebratory treats, to be enjoyed on special occasions. For birthdays, I prefer to make donuts instead of cakes. The delightful sight & sweet smell of these rich, vibrant treats always put a smile on my face & make me feel happy. And I love the look of enjoyment on people's faces when they savor the tasty donuts. Donuts are simply wonderful & bring great joy. My favorite has always been the simple lemon glazed donut. But I luv 'em all!

2. Deserts

I love deserts. Which is surprising given that I didn't ever want to go near a desert when I was younger. I grew up near a beach, in a remote coastal region where there was plenty of rain, rivers, & fresh water lakes. The concept of a dry, burning, hot desert seemed like an unpleasant, foreign hellscape for me. I didn't want to live in a hot oven with no access to water. Who in their right mind wants to live in a desert? Nothing grows there! It's a barren wasteland where everything dies!

And it didn't help that most of the pictures on tv about celebrities & do-gooders begging for donations--the price of a cup of coffee--to buy food for starving people seemed to show only poor, impoverished people struggling in the harsh, desolate desert with nothing to eat. That just made the desert look even worse! Just a gawd awful inferno!

When I was a child, I used to feel so sorry for those starving desert people. But as a smart ass teen, I had an epiphany & thought: Those people don't need donations to buy food. What they need are movers & large trucks to pack up their stuff & move! It's a freakin desert! Nothing grows there! Get the hell out, people! Move somewhere where you can grow crops & have access to clean water!

I subscribed to the philosophy that if you: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; but teach a man how to fish, & he eats for the rest of his life...So instead of sending money to those poor starving desert people, how about we send U-hauls & buses so those starving poor folks can move out of the desert & hopefully go somewhere where they can grow their own food & have clean drinking water (& where there are less flies buzzing about their faces).

When you're a teenager, you think you've got everything figured out. But life has an uncanny ability to pull the rug out from under you & knock you down, just to show you that you don't know anything at all! That you are an absolute idiot! And so it was that as a young adult, not yet old enough to legally drink, that I found myself for the very first time actually out in the desert, the biggest of them all: The Sahara!

A job landed me out there in those hot sands--where I never, ever thought about going. For most of us, it was our first time in the desert. And it nearly killed us all that first day. And the desert kept trying to kill us those first few weeks. It was a gawd awful, excruciating, horrific experience, so much worse than I had ever thought possible! For a short while, I fantasized that celebrities & do-gooders would have commercials begging people to send in donations so they could buy us some plane tickets to get the hell out of that gawd forsaken hellhole.

But what does not kill us, makes us stronger. And though we barely survived, we came out stronger, wiser, & totally more aware of the desert--its dangers & its beauty. After living through the merciless beat down from the desert & surviving its horrendous punishments, I emerged with a newfound awe, humility, & great respect for the desert, & I admired all those who lived & thrived there.

I experienced an unexpected revelation. Once I adapted to survive in the desert, I came to enjoy the desert & was quite astonished to discover its many wonders. The desert is a mystical & magnificent, terrifying & stunning place. And since then, I've visited & explored many other deserts for their beauty & their marvels.

The desert is a spectacular place. If you respect it & learn to follow its rules, you get to see & experience some wondrous & sensational sights--vivid colors, astonishing formations, unique life forms, & exotic landscapes. I could see now why some people choose to live in the desert. There's an allure there--an adventure & a special, exciting experience for those who come to learn about, appreciate, & understand the many amazing aspects & the wildness of the desert. There's no other place like it.

3. Dancing

I love dancing & I love dance music. That's right. Dancing & dance music. I grew up in a region that celebrated & embraced dancing. Whether it was for church performances, holiday celebrations, cultural festivals, school activities, or just large feasts & gatherings--even small get togethers--everyone danced. Even locals who didn't do social dancing for religious reasons would dance in folk & traditional cultural dances & festivals. From the oldest to the youngest, we loved to dance, & we loved music & singing & songs.

It wasn't until I visited the big city far away that I learned that not everyone danced nor celebrated dance, music, & songs like we did back home. It was quite a shock to learn that some people just don't dance. For us, dance was a natural part of life--as natural as a heartbeat or breathing. Dance was the rhythm of life.

As child, one of my favorite movies was Beat Street (1984), which told the story of break dancers battling it out on the city streets with their awesome dance moves. We were blown away by the incredible dance moves & fantastic routines. All the kids in the neighborhood wanted to be break dancers, so we copied & practiced a lot of those break dancing moves on the street corner, on a cardboard box, just like the movie! We even formed a crew & successfully battled other dance crews from different nearby towns & distant villages. We were awesome! We were even crowned champs at local & regional dance competitions!

So you can imagine my complete dismay & utter disappointment to finally visit the big city far away (San Francisco), only to discover the heartbreaking truth: There are no break dancers battling it out in the street corners! Only prostitutes, junkies, crazy & homeless people prowled those city streets. And my crew & I certainly couldn't make a living being street dancers. So much for that childhood dream job. At this point, our crew had a better chance of being space cowboys or ninja assassins & earn a better living than being break dancers out on the street. Talk about the end of childhood innocence!

The crew stayed together for a few more years til teen hormones & changing perspectives & growing up led to our mutual dissolution. We had other things on our minds now. But I still held on to my fantasies of being a dancer. I figured that maybe I could be a background dancer for Janet Jackson during her Rhythm Nation to janet. years (1989-1993). At the very least, if I couldn't be dancer, then I wanted to be her official chesticles inspector.

I still have an affinity for Janet's vintage work, because her songs were the ones the crew & I danced to back in the day: From her Control (1986) album, we won our first official dance contest with When I Think Of You, & The Pleasure Principle; from Rhythm Nation (1989), we dominated the break dancing scene with Miss You Much, & Rhythm Nation; from janet. (1993), we became champions for the last time & dissolved the crew soon after winning the contest with That's The Way Love Goes, & If.

There were plenty of other artists & great songs that we used to dance to, but back then, Janet was our go to. And we wanted to try new moves & create new routines based on the excitement & energy her songs inspired.

After the crew broke up, we still hung out. We still danced. We just didn't compete anymore. We were growing up with new responsibilities & new dreams to pursue. But we still danced at parties & gatherings. We still dance whenever we manage to get together over the years. And while I've got nothing against slow dancing, I much prefer fast dancing & fast dancing music for the energy & for fun.

My eldest sister introduced us to dance music while doing chores. It motivated my two brothers & I to work faster & have fun. To this day, I play music when doing chores--cleaning, folding, washing dishes, clearing out the clutter, I've got to have music on. And while I'm waiting for the food to finish cooking, or baking, or grilling, I pass the time by playing music, singing, & dancing.

In the car, I have to have dance music to keep me awake & energized for the long drives, bopping my head & shoulders to the beat while singing the songs. Sometimes, I forget that other people can see me singing & dancing in my car. It's only at the stoplight when I notice them smiling & waving at me that I realize that they can see me, even behind my dark sunglasses. So I smile back & keep on jamming.

To this day, when I'm at a club or party, if there's good dance music, I'm going to dance. It's one of the traits that makes me popular with my female friends & other women who love dancing & having a good time. Even when I'm home alone, I'll get the urge to play some music & sing & dance along because it's fun. My nieces, nephews, & other kids in my life love it when I join them & dance to silly or fun songs, because it's all about having a good time & enjoying yourself in good company. You don't have to be the best dancer or a professional to enjoy good music. You just need to love good music & have fun. Because dancing is an expression of joy, a celebration of life. So do what makes you feel happy, & do what makes you smile, laugh, & have fun!

4. Diatoms

I am fascinated by diatoms! Diatoms are unicellular algae that may sometimes form colonies, & they have unique silica cell walls that let in light for photosynthesis, creating energy from light. What makes them so beautiful is that they come in so many different geometric shapes! Squares, circles, triangles, so many different mathematical patterns & designs with new species being discovered all the time! I love their spectacular geometric shapes & varied colors! They are living art! Masterpieces of science & math! And they are an important & mysterious component of life! And they even glow like fairy light in the dark seas from external stimuli like rough waves, oars or hands splashing the seas, or just fish passing by causing diatoms to light up their trails in the water.

Every day, new species are being discovered out of the countless numbers that the scientists believe could possibly exist. They are found all over the world wherever water is present--from oceans to lakes to moss growing on trees to the inside of other creatures who depend on diatoms for food & energy production. Diatoms are estimated to be responsible for 20 to 25% of all organic carbon fixation on the planet (using light to transform carbon dioxide & water into sugars). In other words, every fourth to fifth breath of oxygen we breathe in comes from diatoms! Diatoms are the single most important, primary carbon fixers, removing carbon from the atmosphere & converting it into energy! Diatoms fix more carbon than all the tropical rainforests in the world!

The mysterious diatoms are thought to have appeared in the time of dinosaurs, possibly even earlier after the massive Permian Extinction (The Great Dying--the single, largest mass extinction 250 million years ago that wiped out 9 out of 10 marine species & 7 out of 10 land species). And diatoms survived the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago in the KT event. Since then, diatoms have spread all over the world, especially in the poles, where the massive blooms of proliferating microscopic diatoms are visible from space!

Diatoms are the base of the marine & freshwater food web. They are a huge component of the phytoplankton that float on the ocean's surface & feed so many animals. Many creatures depend on the diatoms for food & energy. Because diatoms use light & chlorophyll like plants to produce energy (sugars), many living organisms depend on diatoms to survive--mollusks, fish, & krill that feed whales, seals, fish, & penguins are some of the many animals that depend on diatoms.

Diatoms are responsible for 40% of photosynthesis in the oceans. Without them, much of the life in the oceans would not exist. If there is enough sunlight & available nutrients, diatom blooms support massive numbers of different species & keep other harmful algae species away. They keep oceans, freshwater lakes, & ponds clean, so long as the conditions are favorable for their growth, particularly the abundant availability of iron & silica.

Other important uses of diatoms are their unique characteristics that make them a key biological indicator of environmental changes. Certain diatoms only live in certain areas under certain conditions. This helps scientists track water quality changes & history--think algae blooms & red tides. The presence or absence of diatoms & which diatoms are present or absent are good indicators of what's happening to the waters.

On a morbid yet fascinating forensics note, the presence of diatoms in a body can help determine whether a person drowned/died in a particular lake or if the body was moved there from another location. If a person drowned, diatoms present in the body & similar to the ones in the water would confirm drowning. If the diatoms in the body are different from those found in the water (or even the absence of diatoms in the body), then the person died/was killed elsewhere & the body was moved to the current location. And since different diatoms are found in different locations & grow at different rates, it's possible to locate the site where the person died/was killed. Pretty neat, huh?

Even after they die & leave their silica shells behind, diatoms are crucial, because their remains are used to make filters, abrasives (like toothpaste!), organic pest control (diatomaceous earth), & most important, their compacted remains are responsible for most of the fossil fuels we rely on heavily today--that's why oceans & places once covered by seas (like North America) are so rich in fossil fuels! So it's diatoms, not dinosaurs, that make up fossil fuels! Their light capturing shells are used to increase solar panels efficiency by 50% compared to other solar panels that don't utilize diatom shells! Diatom remains are necessary components in things like paints, soundproofing, water filters, & cleaning up toxic spills!

Yes, diatoms are useful & are an essential building block for life. But for me, diatoms are just absolutely gorgeous! They are natural works of art! Diatoms are nature's living jewels, biological gemstones, one of the most beautiful mathematical & artistic forms in all the world!
Art of Diatom Algae by Ernst Haeckel

5. Dip & Dunk

I like to Dip & Dunk, & I'm not talking about dancing or basketball. I'm talking about dipping & dunking food. And I like to dip & dunk just about anything. Mostly for the unique & awesome flavor combos. But also, I like the contrasting & resulting mix of textures.

There's the usual: I like to dip my chips in delicious dips--guacamole, beans, cheese, & chili; dunk my donuts into hot sweet beverages--hot chocolate, coffee, cider, & tea; dunk my cookies into warm milk; dip my cut veggies into ranch dressing or peanut butter. Meat, fish, & cooked poultry also get dipped, dunked, & devoured.

Then I start to raise eyebrows when people see me dunk my sandwiches into soup, broth, or sauce. I like to dip my slice of pizza into some tomato sauce, melted garlic & parsley butter sauce, or even ranch or thousand island dressing. I like to dip my sashimi in soy sauce. Some say that the best sushi & sashimi don't need soy sauce. But sushi & sashimi taste so much better & richer when dipped in a delightful sauce to make for an extraordinary, sensational taste.

It's always a joy to make new culinary discoveries when mixing different foods & dips. One of the most surprising was when I dipped meatballs into a raspberry sauce. The sauce was left over from pancakes that morning. I was going to make a tomato sauce when I saw the raspberry sauce & inspiration came to me. I love sweet & sour chicken & pork. I also love sesame chicken & pork. I love that fantastic combination of sweet, sour, savory, & tangy. So I just went for it. I dipped a meatball into some raspberry sauce & it was absolutely ambrosial! What an incredible melding of flavors!

Even my friends who came over for dinner--& initially expressed disgust & refusal to try my creation--took a bite of my meatballs & raspberry sauce, & they immediately admitted that the combination was ingenious! It was so good that they stuffed themselves full & finished off all the sauce. The next day, I experimented by dipping the meatballs in grape jelly, & they were very tasty, too. Pretty much any fruit jam, jelly, or sauce makes a great dip for meatballs.

I've learned that if I just go with my instincts & dip or dunk what I want, the results are surprisingly pleasant & sometimes, exquisite! So I dip & dunk whatever I feel like. If it doesn't work out, then at least I know. I've learned that it's sometimes best to go with your gut, even when everyone else is telling you not to.

Everyone's got their own tastes & preferences. And that's okay. But it's important to make up your own mind & not let others pressure you into conforming, keeping you from being yourself. Don't let fear & the naysayers make your choices for you. Do your own thing.

Some say that nacho chips & ranch chips don't need dip. But I dip those chips anyway. And sometimes, I even dip nacho or ranch chips into sauce or soup, instead of using the usual dipping crackers. I've used potato chips, & corn chips, & raw veggies like spoons when I dip them in chili or into mac & cheese. It may not be healthy, but it sure is mighty tasty! Corn chips on chili is awesome! Corndogs & sandwiches dipped or dunked in chili or gravy are decadent & delectable!

I dunk scones, cupcakes, sweet rolls, biscuits, buns, buttered toast, & even pancakes into my hot sweet beverages. With or without butter, jam, or frosting, most baked or fried sweet goods get dunked & dipped to make them into even tastier treats. Cakes, pretzels, & cornbread also get dunked & dipped. And yes, I've even dunked croissants, Danishes, & waffles! I've dunked these sweet treats into my milkshake & melted ice cream, & they were absolutely scrumptious! Shoot, even nacho & ranch chips take on a whole new amazing flavor when dipped in milkshake or ice cream.

Of all the foods that I've tried over the years, the most dunkable & most dippable are the potato & sweet potato, especially in their fries or chips forms. I've dipped & dunked fries & chips in everything from salad dressings, gravies, egg salads, tuna salads, stews, soups, both sweet & savory sauces, chili, custards, chocolate fountains, milkshakes, jams/jellies, even mousse, pie fillings, & yogurts. And they were all perfectly edible & pleasing.

But as exotic & crazy my dipping & dunking tendencies are, I do have a fondness for the simple things. My favorite dunked treat is just plain buttered saltines, toast, or crackers, dipped in hot sweet tea, just long enough for the butter to melt & the edges of the crackers or toast to soften. The combination of different tastes & textures--sweet, salty, hot, soft, crunchy--is delicious & divine!

I like being a dipper & dunker, because it makes food taste so much better. Some people don't dip or dunk. But that's okay. Because when it comes to life, you've got to do what's best for you, so do what makes you happy. So dip, dunk, or don't. Just be you & do what you love, & life becomes a much better, more enjoyable, very wonderful, & delightfully delicious experience.

Related Links
What you C is what you get, the beginning.
What you C is what you get, the middle.
What you C is what you get