The Duncan Banner

November 11, 2013

Despite some chiding, I’m secure as a gourmond

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Several months ago, I assumed an alternate role as Chef Jeff and regaled readers with tales of sumptuous foods I consume, diet tips and recipes for those of us who are true gourmands.

In the process, I also bared my soul and brought many readers to weeping by recounting how the other three people in my family react to dishes like Poached Eggs a la Hash, chipped beef gravy, fried corn meal mush, chicken gizzards, creamed eggs and radish sandwiches.

As you might expect, thousands of folks (well, at least five) have stopped me on the street or in a grocery aisle and praised my taste buds. I’ve received countless emails (OK, there were three) about my appreciation for wonderful “comfort foods” like cracklings, fried baloney and grilled hot dogs stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon.

While readers have made passionate and educated comments about the sophistication of my palette, they’ve also sympathized with my plight within the family unit. They’ve expressed empathy for the scorn and dissing I’ve encountered, and they’ve acknowledged that Karen, Anthony and Chris obviously don’t appreciate fine cuisine.

Ah, gentle readers, you have no idea how difficult it’s really been ... sob, sob ... and the psychological scars I bare. It’s been hard — really hard — to endure. And ... sniffle, sniffle ... I need a shoulder to cry on.

The injustice of my family’s attitude toward my consumption preferences is difficult for me to address. Still, my therapist said it was something that needed to be discussed so the healing process can begin.

And it’s not just the three boo birds in the home nest who get snippy about my menu selections.

Shortly after that column ran, an older gent — who claims to be my friend — popped into my Waurika office and exclaimed, “Do you really eat radish sandwiches?

“I’ve never heard of anyone putting something like that in their mouth!”

“Sure,” I replied, somewhat taken aback by his intolerant attitude. “I’ve eaten many radish sandwiches, especially when I was a kid and my Aunt Gin used to fix them for us for lunch or a snack. They’re danged good.”

“Yeah,” this guy said, with a snide grin, “I bet they’re a gas.”

As he chuckled about making a flatulence joke (No, guys never grow up), I tried to take the high road and responded, “You grew up in the country and you’ve never eaten a radish sandwich?”

“Good gawd no! We wouldn’t have fed radish sandwiches to a stray dog,” my harassing visitor chortled. “I’ve never known anybody who ate something like that — until I read your column.

“Heck, I’d never even heard of white radishes before. It must be one of those Yankee things you brought down from Illinois.”

I also got a call from a woman who assured me cracklings, fried baloney and grilled hot dogs stuffed with cheddar cheese and wrapped in bacon are “a heart attack on a plate.”

I tried to tell her it wasn’t like I ate those foods every meal of every day; that those were just dishes I had on occasion to break the monotony of yogurt, Cheerios, salad, veggies, fruits, salmon, skinless chicken and other healthy foods I ingest with regularity.

But all she could say was, “Tisk, tisk.”

Oh, the slings and arrows of outraged fortune.

Still, I can find plenty of ways to rationalize the chiding I’ve received from a few readers concerning that food column. And as my gastronomic self-esteem therapy continues, I’ve also found a way to deal with the digs and daggers my food choices draw from those I love most.

See, when Karen, Anthony and Chris start to tease me about food, I simply remember the three of them not only don’t spell “catsup” correctly, they also put it on hot dogs! Which is an abomination to all true connoisseurs.

Comforted by that realization, I’m now smiling as I down another radish sandwich.