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.

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