Pass the Alligator Please

We all know that Grandma is close-minded and not at all adventurous when it comes to food. She won’t touch fish in any form because “it’s too fishy,” which is based upon her opinion derived from canned tuna—the fishiest of all fish. Yogurt is awful, even the frozen variety, which is her unwavering belief based upon her first introduction to it years before the advent of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food or Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Really, Mom? I guess when you have reached your eighty-seventh birthday nothing will change your mind.

I admit I was like her for years, proving that Grandpa’s fear that she was contaminating our food choices with her opinions was happening. I politely refused an invitation to my friend’s Maine vacation home when she excitedly told me that her parents would be serving lobster with great frequency.

Then I met Dad, and I began to dip my toe into the waters of seafood dining. I am not certain precisely when this began, but my best guess it was with a pu-pu platter containing shrimp toast, which I loved, loved, loved! From there he introduced me to shrimp with lobster sauce, which does not contain a bit of lobster, but it does have lots of shrimp. That opened my eyes and my mouth to the world of all types of food that swims. Grandpa was wrong.

Still, there were many barriers to break. Sushi was next. The deathbed request of Dad’s father was this delicacy, which took many years for me to try. When I discovered that sushi did not necessarily mean uncooked fish, I slowly became a fan. While I have tasted uncooked sushi in the form of spicy tuna and salmon, I still prefer the cooked varieties such as California roll and shrimp tempura.

Next, I was introduced to non-traditional food that walked on land. Before we left New Jersey, I reluctantly tried a bear appetizer, which even Dad, your more adventurous parent, would never order again. It was filled with gristle and was very tough. We have all eaten and enjoyed escargot. I was so happy that you have all been much more willing to try unusual food than me.

In London, Dad and I shared an ostrich burger, and at our club’s annual “wild game dinner,” I have sampled venison (code for Bambi), wild boar (pork), dove (It really does taste like chicken but its peaceful symbolism made me feel guilty), and this past weekend, the pièce de résistance—alligator, which looked and tasted like a chicken wing. Incidentally, if you follow meatless Fridays during Lent, alligators, snakes, and turtles are acceptable alternatives according to the Catholic Church.

Someone at the table asked if I had tried rattlesnake. That is a path which I just cannot traverse. I have my limits, which include snakes and bugs. That is why you will never see me on Survivor. I just can’t go there.


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