Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Self-Inflicted Beef Stew Curse

When I was a little kid we had a neighbor in our apartment building who used to take care of me when my widowed mom would go out on a date. This woman was very nice, but she was a lousy cook. One of the first times she watched me–I was probably about 4 at the time–she made beef stew. It was really vile, but I forced myself to eat it. This was way before I stopped being polite. When she asked me how it was, I said, “Very good, thank you.” That was a big mistake.

After that, almost every time she cooked for me she made beef stew because she thought I liked it so much. I’d eat it, swallowing quickly, trying my best not to taste it or betray my disgust. Sometimes I’d eat just a little and claim that I wasn’t very hungry, waiting until I could go back to my own apartment and snack. This went on for several years. Every once in a while she’d vary the menu with some equally bad baked ziti which, for some reason, she called “zita.”

If you’re a pre-adolescent kid reading this, remember: honesty is the best policy and politeness will get you nowhere.

Note: The only worse beef stew I've ever had was at an odd Sudanese-Dominican restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. The dish was billed as a Sudanese specialty, but it tasted like a can of Dinty Moore that had been seasoned with iodine.


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