Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Night Foodie: Facing an Eight Year Old's Fears

 “No sauerkraut for me, thanks.”

She wouldn’t have it; in fact, she demanded it be put on my sandwich, no matter how much I wrinkled my nose.

I remembered the last time I’d tried sauerkraut, hair blonder, curls looser, eyes wider, I trusted the lunch lady without the cynicism that would settle in later years.  One large, unhindered bite was my first step towards the wisdom of the world.  No amount of carton milk could possibly drive the sour (how many days old???) taste from my mouth.  With as much determination as an eight year old can muster, I vowed never to eat the foul substance again.

Yet, I found myself again faced with, what I could only remember as, the smelly giant.  I would try it, but only because she was my best friend’s mom…only because the family was of German heritage. 

It takes hours to make good sauerkraut, hours and good beer and (if I remember correctly) bacon.  Translucent and rather dull looking, the eight year old in me could hardly imagine that it would taste anything other than sour, bitter, and slimy. 
Gluten free bread for me, of course.

The smell of buttered bread, melted Swiss, and turkey made my stomach growl and my mouth water…why ruin it with what is literally translated as “sour cabbage”? 

Still, retreat was not an option.  With a polite face at the ready, I took my first bite. 

Swiss, 'kraut, turkey

The Reuben 

What I discovered that day was that there is a world of difference between cafeteria “sauerkraut” (if it can be so called) and fresh, homemade sauerkraut.  Tart, flavorful, and crisp, this topping made the sandwich instead of ruining it.  Once again, I am surprised by food; expectations trumped, childhood aversions upturned, new memories folded in.  It’s more than a meal; it’s family and friends and fellowship, and I am so very thankful for it.

Thank you, Spitler family, for having me to Oklahoma, and "forcing me" to eat your sauerkraut.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Might of Words

 “An English Major?  Hope you’re ready to ask ‘Do you want fries with that?’.” 

I’m not a violent person, but at this point in the conversation, I felt ripping his face off would be an appropriate and reasonable response.  No court would convict me.  Crime of passion, right?

It wasn’t the first time my major of choice had been belittled, after all, I had not only chosen Creative Writing as my focus but also decided that attending an Agricultural and Mechanical university was just the place to do it.  Year after year Engineers of all types snickered at my passion.  The kind ones held up a smile supported by decency and asked, with the greatest effort at politeness, what my future career plans were; the less tactful laughed outright, suggested I might have nothing more to look forward to than serving up flash frozen fries.

Words.  Words powerful enough to cut like knives. 

I wanted my words to be powerful, too, to speak to individuals, to the masses, concepts, ideas that would bring about change, would rend hearts, would comfort and convict…I wanted to change the world with my voice as a mouthpiece for the Lord, for truth…

But words made me small; shrunk me down until I was tiny, a child looking up at adults, at betters.  My words meant nothing, I meant nothing; my path was that of a fool.  Even the armor of indignation and condescension based on their “inability to communicate intellectualism” stood little chance against the arrows of their words…

It only proved how powerful words can be, how they can mend or break, build or destroy.  The old adage regarding sticks and stones proves to be nothing more than the same armor with which is clothed myself, and poor armor at that. 

“…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  James 3:5-6

I was listening, as I often do, to wrong voices.  I was listening to wrong words. 

“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”   Galatians 3:29

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:14

Words have power.  Listen to the right ones.

True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the C├Žsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it! – Edward Bulwer-Lytton