Is tasteless food eaten without salt,
or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?
I refuse to touch it;
such food makes me ill.
- Job 6:6-7
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
- Psalm 34:8-10
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
- Luke 10:5-7
Do you eat health food? Do you eat healthy food? Do you buy into the idea that healthy food is healthy for you?
Maybe it is just me, but I want taste. Health food today is almost inedible. Now there is a new oxymoron for you, “Inedible Food.”
This topic has been rolling around in my head for months, maybe years, but I made my wife and I an omelet this morning. It had four ingredients: five whole eggs, medium cheddar cheese (shredded), shredded parmesan, and blue cheese, sliced paper thin. As it cooked, I thought of the one, and only, egg white omelet that I have ever eaten. I wondered while I ate it where all the taste had gone. The taste was in the yolk, the part they carefully removed – the part that you pay someone big bucks to carefully remove when it really is not that hard to separate the yolk from the egg white. I am a klutz and I can do it!!
But egg yolks have cholesterol, and they must go. My mother had cholesterol problems. As she dieted, and boy could she diet (more will power than any hundred other people), she eliminated cholesterol from her diet, but her numbers kept going up. Her food had no taste and it chewed worse than trying to eat a cardboard box, but to no avail. She died of something else, but if your body stores up cholesterol, dieting has to be accompanied by exercise and maybe strong medicine. People who are 70-80 years old do not exercise much. Getting out of bed is a major goal to many of them, and it tires them so much that they take a nap before they walk anywhere.
Hey, my wife is finally in that category and I do not get there for another year and a few months. She rules the roost in that she repeatedly tells me to mind my elders, so I must put in a jab when I can.
My wife also loves salt. She will salt things before she tastes them. She does that less often these days and the aforementioned omelet was sprinkled with pepper instead of salt. She knew that the cheeses would have some salt and she knew I would be watching. When she has been hospitalized, she has sent me on missions of espionage. My mission, if I chose to accept it (Did I have a choice?!), was to find salt in small packets and smuggle them to her hospital room. If I were to be discovered, she would disavow any knowledge of me being her husband. You may laugh, but when I failed in that mission on a couple of occasions, she now keeps small salt packets in her purse, just in case she ends up in the emergency room. Please do not let the emergency room staff know about her hidden stash. There may be injuries when my wife explodes. But my wife knows that salt is bad for her kidneys and her heart, a double whammy. But she grew up in Indonesia and western culture has nothing but bland food in her estimation.
But these days, a lack of taste – yes, most things produced by Hollywood are tasteless, but that is something different – is prized. Take a new water filter that claims to remove every bit of the contaminants from the water. Absolutely pure H-2-O!!! They say that it is the best tasting water that can possibly be tasted.
I can attest that if their filter works that good, they are lying. One day in chemical engineering Unit Operations class, the professor came into the room with a tray. The tray had sparkling clean glasses, one for each of us, and a pitcher of chilled water. He poured each of us a glass and instructed us to drink it at the same time. A couple of people immediately spit it out. A couple of people made that fake gagging noise like they were going to throw up or that they had to clear their throat. I had eaten things that I thought would kill me because my mother forced me to eat them. Obviously, they did not kill me, but it was never pleasant. I drank the water and tried not to make a face, but I doubt if I succeeded.
Once the professor felt the gagging and coughing had died down enough for us to hear what he had to say, he told us that he had distilled the water. It was the purest water that we would ever taste. Then the class agreed, but that it had no taste at all. It felt like a foreign substance in our mouths. The professor then told us that if we were to be the engineer in charge of drinking water in our careers, that certain minerals had to be added to pure water, for people to ever want to drink it. Otherwise, it would be unpalatable. Thus, the television commercial either lies about the effectiveness of the filter or lies about the water “tasting” better than any water on the market.
Yet, there is a third option. The evil of psychology rears its head. Psychology can convince us that tasteless is better than anything with taste and our brains recalibrate the signal from the taste buds accordingly. Anything with taste – bad. Anything tasteless – healthy.
I remember an old The Big Bang Theory episode where Sheldon’s mother was visiting from Texas and she fixed a meal that everyone was eating lustily. They were so ravenous, it looked like they would go after the flowers printed on the plate. Penny complimented her on the delicious dish. And Sheldon’s mother said something about how it was made with a four-letter word starting with “L”. Penny smiled and said, “Love?” Sheldon’s mother said, “No. Lard!” Everyone started coughing and looking for somewhere they could throw up. But until they knew there was lard in it, they loved it.
I grew up on lard. My mother preferred oleomargarine, which will probably give me cancer someday, but my grandmothers had huge tubs of lard that they cooked everything in. My wife uses butter but is switching, more and more, to canola oil or EVOO. Our younger son has a problem with EVOO that science cannot explain.
But in all those methods of providing that part of the dish, the ones that have flavor are the lard and the butter. The others may get the recipe to work, but there is less taste.
My wife fixed a very healthy chicken dish the other day that had flavor. It was not healthy for her in that the coumadin that she takes to thin her blood is neutralized by dark leafy green vegetables and the dish had more spinach in it than it did chicken and potatoes (another thing bad for her in that potatoes have too much potassium). The dish also had ginger and celery. I think she had a good bit of honey in the dish. When we were having the dish for lunch, finishing off the leftovers, I was loving the flavors that were bouncing around in my mouth. I took a bite that had a lot of celery in it to calm the taste buds down, but I immediately had the opposite reaction. I made no horrible noises, but my wife saw the look on my face and asked, “You bit into a big chunk of ginger, didn’t you?” My reply was, “I forgot you had ginger root in this. I thought that was a hunk of celery!!” She laughed and kept eating. She says that looking back, the thing she liked the most was that I was funny. I wasn’t a great stand-up comedian, but I simply acted in a funny way. Back to the klutz mentioned earlier. I was so glad that I could amuse her by chewing ginger root.
There may be more written in the future about the sending out of the 72 disciples in Luke 10. The new pastor gave a great sermon on it, but he said that the command to eat what was offered might mean for those disciples that what was offered could be an unclean food according to Jewish requirements. I think that my mother’s torture – I mean broadening of my personal spice and food pallet – may have helped me to do as Jesus had commanded. I have eaten a variety of things that I think my mother would never dare eat, things like pigeon (not quail, but the city statue type pigeon), lily root (loved it), chicken beak and foot soup, chicken blood pudding, and sea food dishes that mostly remain nameless – but contain sea cucumber (never again), various anemone, octopus that still crawls around on the plate, etc. I have had unnamed meat that could have been dog, cat, etc. I learned in Mexico that there is good cabrito and bad cabrito (roasted goat). The bad cabrito is the kind that you quit chewing long enough to smile at your host, but then you continue chewing for another hour or so before swallowing. And while we are on the subject of chewing, if you eat Chinese duck tongue, the easiest way to “chew” it (like chewing rubber bands and about as tasty) is to cut it into tiny bites and then swallow. Chewing duck tongue is impossible!!!!
But when you are a guest of someone else, it is proper to eat what is placed before you, but Job has a point also. Food with no taste makes me ill. And is being “ill” healthy?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.