Foods that Taste Like Sadness

I had the world’s worst sandwich the other day. It was my fault — I went to this one shop that was right on my way to a meeting, instead of going a few minutes out of my way and getting something decent.  The moment the pilly-bread touched my tongue, I knew I had made a huge mistake. But I refused to shoulder the blame alone: the sandwich had its part in the mess, too.

When I talk about foods that taste like sadness, I don’t mean the comfort foods that draw you into their bosom as you weep over the wreckage that is your life: macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and really great buttery buns are not on trial here. I’m talking about the Brutuses (Brutii?) of the food world, the sirens that lure you in and then smash your whole mouth against a wall of despair and crushed hopes, the foods that let you know through their taste, appearance, texture, and consistency, that you are eating some feelings, and those feelings are not good ones.

And what really grinds my potato about this whole situation is that I have a limited number of appetites in my limited life, and I don’t want to waste them on food that tastes like getting punched in the face by Steel Magnolias. I want to spend my appetites on cookies and cakes and cold salads and huge bowls of pasta and gigantic saucers of chili, and each time I waste an appetite on subpar food, it feels like I lost something.

The worst perpetrators of this betrayal (because really, what else can I call it) are sandwiches with gritty or soggy bread, burritos with the proportions all wrong, cakes that taste like dry sponges mixed with pebbles, and pasta that squishes into a bland paste best suited for grout. Fresh fruits can also be a little dicey, their firm, colorful skin hiding a shameful, mealy flesh, or masking the thick, acrid, over-ripe odor.

Fortunately for me, it’s the tail-end of tomato season out here, so I can feel fairly confident that a nice tomato salad will adequately satisfy an appetite. Chopped onions, diced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper, spread over thick rounds of tomato is a good way to end a day. If you’re feeling saucy, adding mozzarella or going whole-hog and throwing the mix on top of some nice, crusty bread for a bruschetta would be pretty nice, too.

But, if you’re going for bruschetta, I implore you, for the love of all that is good and tasty in this world — avoid the Brutus-breads.

7 replies on “Foods that Taste Like Sadness”

Soggy bread is awful, as are mashed potatoes that end up the consistency of wet cement.

But nothing is as bad as mediocre biscuits. Bad biscuits, those I can get over. Someone doesn’t know their way around the kitchen, ok, it’s sad and all, but you can usually tell from looking at them what you’re going to get. The worst are biscuits that look amazing but turn out to be a little too crumbly or chalky or whathaveyou. The ones that are just ok, not so bad that you have stories about them, not so great you dream about them, that are totally forgettable.

I’ll never forget the time that the husband and I decided to make gumbo for a big family dinner.  We worked on it for hours, the house smelled amazing and…. the gumbo had no taste.  Just bland.  You could smell the flavors in the air, but in your mouth, it was just generic spice and rice.  That was the worst food-of-sadness I’ve ever made.

Grocery-store deli-case sandwiches are sure sources of sad foods.  Abstractly, they sound awesome (turkey with chipotle-orange-cranberry sauce), but in my mouth they taste like nothing, and then I’m sad I spent $7 on a bad sandwich when I could have spent the same money on better food.

Oh man, fruit that is bad is the worst.  I got 4 apples recently and they were not delicious at all.  It got to a point that I was kind of resentful of the apples. I hoped that the first one was an anomaly.  Then with the second one I knew it was going to be all 4.  The 3rd one sealed it home. And I avoided the 4th one for days. I would see it in the drawer and this feeling of rage and disappointment would start to boil up.  I finally ate it with an obscene amount of peanut butter.

And I tell you, when it came time to buy apples again I definitely paused for a moment. I was hopeful, but a little traumatized by my previous experience.  That’s 4 perfectly good apple-eating opportunities wasted.  Terrible

I never realized that a) apples were my favorite fruit and b) that I am rather passionate about their quality until I moved to Tallahassee FL for my M.A. degree where apples are often mediocre and quality and prohibitively expensive. Nothing is worse than a mealy apple (except a mealy apple that was $3.47/lb), you can’t even put it in a pie or crisp.

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