4 Oct 2009
As a traveler, I’m certainly not first class. Even coach is a little rough for me. It is not that I do not travel well; I’m just not a happy traveler. Whenever I am on the road, as they say, I am plagued with thoughts of all those things I could be doing if I were home at my study.
The key is “could be doing.” When I am at my study I do not really do that much, but when travelling I think about what I could be doing. That is the true genius of amateur travelers. We may not do a lot but when travelling we can think of all those things we could be doing if we were not travelling. When home, those thoughts never enter our minds. That is why I like home so much.
Probably, the worse thing about travelling for me is the food. Ever since birth, I have had an incurable addiction to food. No matter what I have tried, I have never been able to kick this habit. I once went for three whole hours without eating.
My idea of fun is not eating out for every meal. After a few days of eccentric cuisine, everything begins tasting the same. No matter the restaurant, nothing can compare with good home cooking. Nobody and I mean nobody can burn toast like the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
Recently, some personal business required travel to the Philippines. I arrived right after the first typhoon and just before the second one hit Manila. I need to congratulate my travel agent for such excellent timing. It involved a week’s worth of travel and of course, a week’s worth of eating at restaurants. This was my first visit to that part of the world and my first taste of authentic Asian cuisine.
Now, I am up for any new adventure even in the wonderful world of fine dining. I enjoy sampling new food and enjoying exotic flavors and trying to guess what I am eating. The key word here is “sampling.” But, every good thing finally comes to an end. And some things, like exotic foods, are better when the end is sooner rather than later.
For example, rice. At first bite, rice is an acceptable food staple, but too much of a good thing is – well – too much. I enjoyed my visit to Asia but I noticed that there is a redundancy of rice there.
For breakfast, there was always a huge bathtub size bowl of rice on the breakfast buffet line. For lunch, every platter contained a mountain of rice. And then supper. Rice…rice…rice.
Of all the rice in all the world, why did it have to end up on my dinner table?
The more I looked at the rice the larger it loomed before me until I got the Popeye, the Sailor syndrome, “I yam what I yam! I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!”
I was at the stage of my travel where I was yearning for some back-home-cooking. However, the more I studied the menu the more depressed I became. Most items offered I could not pronounce and few things did I even recognize. Everything came to a climax one morning for breakfast. I was a little tired of rice-a-boring so I decided to risk my welcome.
The waiter came to my table for my order and I said with all the confidence I could muster under the circumstances, “I would like some eggs over easy, biscuits and gray and grits.” With that, I sat back in my chair and sighed a deep sigh of culinary relief.
Looking at me for a few moments the waiter finally broke out into hysterical laughter. He called another waiter over and said something to him I could not understand and pointed to me and both enjoyed a hilarious moment together at my expense. As far as I was concerned, that was the only tip he would get from me.
When regaining a semblance of control he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Oh, you Americans. You berry, berry funny.” He barely got it out before collapsing in uncontrollable laughter.
I am up for a good joke as well as any one else. If the whole truth were told, I have pulled my share of jokes on other people. This, however, did not qualify as a joke. I was serious. When it comes to grits, in particular, I never joke.
Having grits-withdrawal is not a fun experience, especially when you are in a place that never heard of that heavenly fare. But, someone mocking my craving for grits is beyond my personal endurance. A finely cultivated culinary craving is a work of art and having it mocked is just too much.
Of course, after some thoughtful consideration, maybe to Asians rice is their grits. If so, I want a compromise. I will respect their rice if they revere my grits.
Something better is found in the scripture. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51 KJV).
Be it rice or grits, nothing compares to that Living Bread, which gives spiritual life to those who eat it.
Rev. James L. Snyder