Write about: A taste that excites you and the moment you first encountered it. I came across this writing prompt in 642 Things to Write About and stopped on it because I do have a recollection. That surprised me. I hadn’t ever considered my experience as something profound, but when the prompt came, the memory flooded back.
I was at a friend’s house, sitting on the floor in their den and someone pulled out a bag of Tostitos and next to it, two bowls of salsa. One was Pace, don’t know the heat level, the other was Herdez—hot. I grew up in Texas, but salsa was never a thing in our house. My parents, both from Minnesota, had leanings toward a bland diet. I remember, fondly, eating spam sandwiches with mayo, Velveta cheese squished in white bread, lots of corn, ice cream and Hawaiian punch floats, and B&M beans.
I was a picky eater in my youth and still am. Sadly, I gave my persnickety habits to my children. I won’t travel down that pothole-filled road right now. The thing is, why hadn’t I tried salsa? That first scoop of the Herdez and the bold taste was an eye-opening experience and I never went back. From then on, if my friends and I were trolling for food, I’d vote for Mexican. I became consumed with it. Today, I have an entire side shelf in my fridge devoted to various flavors and heat. I once exchanged a peach salsa recipe with my doctor while being examined.
While writing this, I suddenly recalled another. (Try this prompt for yourself, it’s interesting!) Dijon mustard. I was in the high school cafeteria and my friend always had what I considered at the time to be weird food, but one day, she quartered off a bite of her sandwich and I tasted Dijon for the first time. It was heavenly. I puzzled over it for a long period of time, realizing that there were food and tastes out there which I hadn’t experienced. I think I looked at my parents differently that night, asking myself, maybe for the first time, why they were so limited in this area of life. Food wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about growing up. It was just there. I remember asking my mom to buy that Dijon thing, but I don’t think it ever made it into the house.
Damn. Now I have a recollection of another girl in high school talking about how she and her mom made pies. They baked together and tried different recipes. What? Pies? Wasn’t that something you bought at the store? Baking? I remember this puzzled me and made me feel bad. At the time, I couldn’t quite place the problem, but of course, now I certainly can.
In recollect, it’s clear I was limited in my culinary education and experiences. Wonderful, warm and fuzzy memories surrounding the joy of food paired with the family bonding of cooking were missing from my life. Thank you, writing prompt for bringing this to my attention. Now I’m bitter and sad. I’m also upset with the fact that neither of my children like Dijon mustard, nor have I ever made a pie with them. It’s a repeating pattern. They’ve had incredible access to the salsa family, however. Thank you, Pace and Herdez for the evolution in my family line. Thank you for opening up the idea that a world of food and goodness was waiting to be embraced. Who knew you were in the hero business?