Hot dogs, hush puppies, and... fruitcakes? Are we really what we eat?
"You are what you eat?"
Sure, I’ve heard that silly aphorism many times. I'd usually respond with something akin to, “Amen, brother,” and flash a placating thumbs up. But in truth, I never did understand what it’s supposed to mean. I don’t feel like I'm a Dim Sum or a chicken frickin' zee, but it does bring to mind a couple of pea-brains the wife encountered awhile back.
We like to frequent a local Chinese buffet known for its wide variety of Asian-American cuisine just off Kentucky's I-75 coursing through our city of nearly a half-million; not exactly a rural Bumpkinville. Early one evening the place was filling with patrons savoring assorted plats du jour when the wife returned with her second course and pirouetted at the table before sitting.
“Do I have an 'ask stupid' sign on my back, or something?” she facetiously said.
“Why, what happened now?”
She recounted how ten minutes earlier when selecting a soup starter, she noticed a couple in matching bib-overalls working their way toward her, pointing and crinkling their noses at different items. Upon reaching her, ‘Pa Kettle’ tapped her arm.
“I wouldn't eat here if I was you, lady," he whispered. "Nope. Me and the Mrs. was here yesterdee and them there crab legs and all this other stuff is here agin t'day. Jist a bunch o’ leftovers. Nope, them little Ming-ding devils cain't fool us. We're fixin' to go across the road and git us some real fresh grub. And you should, too, if’n you was smart."
I cracked a risible smile. “Probably a couple o' Hooterville hayseeds on their way back to the hills, but why the sign?”
“Why me, is more like it. You won’t believe it, but just now another turnip-top came up to me." She giggled and went on to tell me how she was about to place a spoonful of Hunan chicken on her plate when a scraggy-bearded man in oil-stained dungarees leaned closer.
“I wouldn’t touch that stuff if I were you. Take my word for it, lady. I’m a trucker and know good food when I see it. I ain’t ever gonna eat in this dump again, that's fer dang sure.”
“Why? What’s wrong with it?” the wife hesitated.
“Look. Says right there in front of ya— ‘human chicken.' How they git away with that, anyways? I heard they like t’cook up dogs and stuff, but this is over the line. You’d be wise to high-tail it, too, little lady.”
I laughed, thinking that dude must have been weaned off a bellyful of gravel as a kid— dumb as a box of rocks. That spawned a second thought; perhaps there is indeed something to the ditzy phrase after all. I couldn’t resist and playfully pinched her cheek. “Aw, I just think he has a sweet tooth, ‘cause you’re a hot little dish, yourself.”
“Bloody ‘ell, get away. He looks and smells like the wick of kerosene lamp. Yuck,” she said, and brushed me off.
“Oh, I dunno,” I needled. “You know what they say, darling: ‘You are what you eat.’ At least it makes you human, my little chickadee.” But she didn't flutter those baby-blues, only narrowed them to a cavalier, “I gotcha” look.
“Why, I do believe you may be right for once, my pudgy little dumpling.” Her smarmy focus shifted between my plateful of stuffed wontons, and, their human storage bin beyond.
Well, what’d I tell ya? I never did like that sappy saying, anyway.