• The Piquant Storyteller

Less than Special

Updated: Dec 2, 2018

Today's phrase is brought to you by the number 6 and the letter U, as in ewww!

There is a special feeling that warms you from the inside out when you wake up in the morning to a news story referencing a recall on romaine lettuce. Actually, that feeling is less than special. Much less. Because you had a Caesar salad for lunch on Monday and a Café Rio salad for lunch on Tuesday. Wednesday morning you find out you could die of salmonella poisoning and you haven't even finished toasting your bagel yet.

I'm no expert on salmonella per se. It seems that symptoms would have shown by now. I did have food poisoning once. It was a less than special experience. Kind of my fault too. I had taken leftover restaurant fare with me to my first day of a long term sub job. My memory escapes me as to why I never put the food in the school fridge. I made it through the day just fine but soon after school let out my stomach was feeling iffy. The porcelain throne and I became personally acquainted as fast friends. Tears watered the bath mats as I wondered what to do while silently berating my own stupidity.

As luck would have it, I was fine. Late that night I had finished donating the last bite of that unfortunate meal, along with every bite of every meal I had eaten in the previous year. By morning I was fine, though a good 15 lbs. lighter. I went to work and no one was the wiser. Besides, of course, my new best friend the bathroom.

Recently I tried my hand at a homemade parfait. The idea was suggested to me as a way to add more protein to my breakfast in an effort to avoid low blood sugar after my morning workout.

Pump Nurse: Do you like Greek yogurt? Me: Not particularly.

Pump Nurse: Well you should try putting that over your cereal instead of milk. Greek yogurt is great because it's low carb while being very high in protein. You can make yourself a little parfait!

I was skeptical but thought it was worth a shot. The normal pre-made and unassembled parfaits smiled at me from their refrigerated shelf. Despite my feelings to the contrary, I walked past known goodness for a tub of Greek yogurt. Choices were limited. The only options seemed to be large tubs that may as well have been a Costco sized vat. They came in three flavors - vanilla, something else I don't remember, and plain. Suddenly I was overcome by some demon and chose the plain.

The next morning I measured out my plain Cap 'N Crunch cereal because it seemed like a better choice for the experiment than Lucky Charms. It's as if I was unaware of the lack of cereal options in my own pantry. With a deep breath, I spooned glop after glop of smelly Greek yogurt into a measuring cup before mixing it with my cereal. I closed my eyes, prayed for my soul, and took a bite.

It tasted like sweaty gym socks from a rusty metal can infused with crunchy sugar cereal. In other words, it was not good. My husband's face was a conflicted mix of horror and awe. He put his head down as he ate his own normal human being breakfast. He told me later that he didn't want to say anything to me about the torture I was putting myself through. Later he did insist I throw out the yogurt. Mistakes are not worth keeping around to torture oneself with. The fridge is now full of individual cups of Yoplait. They come with protein and flavor! And the carb count isn't that much higher than Greek yogurt. I'm trying to have my blood sugar high enough to exercise without bottoming out anyway.

Lunch today was less than special. My husband found personal size pizzas. A little light reading in the frozen food section may have saved us from this meal. My pizza claimed to have 4 grams of carbs! Per serving. The pizza was maybe four inches across. What kind of idiot only eats half a personal sized pizza? Either way, 8 grams of carbs is almost negligible.

Me: What's the crust made out of? Cauliflower?

Hubby reading the box: It looks like parmesan cheese and chicken.

Me: Chicken? Really? That's weird.

Realize I hate chicken. In almost every application, I hate chicken. It tastes like chicken - overcooked and untasty. It's kind of a family joke that I hate chicken. But it was already baking and I survived the Greek yogurt fiasco. How bad could this be?

It came out of the oven looking like cheesy soup. The crust was so liquified I had to use a fork. The first bite wasn't … well it wasn't great. But it's grocery store pizza. With a fake crust made of cheese and chicken. The crust started to solidify a little as the pizza cooled more. The next couple bites were a lot less special. Each succeeding bite tasted more like overcooked rubbery chicken until the crust resembled a rubber tire. With a chicken aftertaste to last you till New Year's.

I once heard a comedian say that restaurants don't serve real food to children because children never eat it. They just lick off the ketchup. So really, the food is that rubber and plastic stuff you can buy for your kids to play with. They toss it in the dishwasher and heat it up for the next kid. I believe this story because I literally ate the pizza version. And it was less than special.

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