(Photo by me at Sue’s Best Burger, Oct 2017, in Blue Ridge, GA)
Job 34: 2-4 (ESV)…Hear my words, you wise men, and give ear to me, you who know; for the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good.
As we continue with Part 3 of this series in expressing gratitude to the Father by acknowledging the wonderful senses we’re provided to experience life, I looked to this passage in Job. Referencing our senses of hearing and taste and the abilities they give to discern, the scripture implores us in the same way to actively choose right over wrong, good over bad, in our decision making. “As the palate tastes food.”
The palate is incredibly unique in each individual. While we certainly share common love or dislike with many others over any particular taste, no two palates are exactly alike. Have you ever considered that? Stunning to realize the complexity of His creation in these ways. The list of things that send my tastebuds into heavenly orbit would never exactly match another person. Yet, all individuals have “a taste” for certain items, and from that first initial bite or sip, many other emotions are engaged, the best of which we in America describe as – Comfort Food.
With great gratitude to my Father for the sense of taste, here are just a sample of some of the things I adore to experience. Create your own list and give prayers of Thanksgiving!
Disclaimer: I am not an Aristocratic man of highly refined palate and taste. I’m a southern boy raised on real cooking and great tasting foods. This list will reflect that 😉
1. South Carolina mustard-based bbq sauce slathered on pulled pork and served on a white bread bun. Preferably at a divine placed named, “Maurice’s Piggie Park,” in Columbia, South Carolina. The original one. With the enormous sign in the sky with a smartly dressed pig standing on top. I love that place deeply.
2. Steamed Dungeness, King, Snow, or Stone Crab, dipped in melted butter. One of the greatest (and most expensive meals on earth), is also one of the most simplistic pleasures to be found. There’s almost nothing to preparing, plating and then selling this meal (for great profit), but the reason it’s done is because it’s soooooooooooooo good. Sure it can be a bit cumbersome to get to that meat, and in the case of King Crab, it can also be painful, but slap down a mess of it in front of me and I won’t talk again until it’s all gone. I’ll just look up at you right before I start and say, “See you on the other side.” After that…it is just a fury of flying shells, dripping butter, and a series of pleasurable grunts and moans.
3. Dr. Pepper. No kidding, for a great portion of my life to this point I consumed Dr. Pepper like it was my paid job. I used to joke that my body chemistry consisted purely of the 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper. It was all a beautiful great ride. Until a Doctor one day ruined everything. In a nutshell, if I didn’t stop gulping down the truthfully really bad for you, yet amazingly delicious soda, I was on a fast train to a fried pancreas and early death. Begrudgingly, I put down the sodas and started drinking water like a normal human being. However, I still treat myself on occasion, and the Good Doctor still holds my heart. P.S. I visited the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas earlier this year. My advice if you love the drink? Don’t go. It’s sadly disappointing for what should be a grand palace honoring the world’s greatest soft drink. 🙂
4. An expertly prepared Strip Steak, either NY or Kansas City cut. I’m always down to chow on a strip steak. Anytime. Anywhere. But all steaks are not created equal, and neither are the cooks making them. To this day, the best Strip Steak I’ve ever had the great pleasure to eat was at Emeril’s in Orlando, Florida. A place that no longer exists. Hall of Fame Chef, Emeril Lagasse, of New Orleans fame, for a time had a great restaurant at Universal Studios Florida. I was there with my kids and wanted something more upscale than park food. I had no idea the most mouth-watering, buttery, juicy, awesome steak I’d ever eat was on the menu. But it was. I’ve been seeking its equal ever since. I’ll gladly keep searching.
5. A fried seafood platter on the Carolina Coast. Flounder, shrimp, scallops, oysters, deviled crab, hush puppies…it’s all deadly. Deadly delicious. The style is officially known as, “Calabash Style,” named after the small NC fishing town that calls itself the Seafood Capital of the World. That of course is silly, but the food is not, and it is served all up and down the coasts of both Carolinas.
6. New York City Pizza. My personal favorite (because you have to have one) is – John’s of Times Square. NYC is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me the city is – Pizza. I could take or leave the rest, but give me that pizza.
7. The Eastern North Carolina Style Chopped Pork BBQ Sandwich that was served in the Charlotte Coliseum during Charlotte Hornets basketball games. Not the Michael Jordan owned Hornets of now, but the original George Shinn owned Hornets. With Larry Johnson, Alonso Mourning, and Steph Curry’s Dad, Dell. Those Hornets. We went to all the home games back in those early years of the franchise, and oh my…there was a NC BBQ stand outside in the concourse that served up both Western and Eastern styles. The Eastern? Mouth-watering, unbelievably good. North Carolina is one of the 4 pillars of BBQ along with Texas, KC, and Memphis. The state is full of legendary joints. For me to sit here and say the best I ever tasted was from a stand at an NBA game? I could be banned permanently from the state. But I’m telling you truth…it was the best.
8. The Red Beans, Rice & Grilled Smoked Sausage at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, LA. I have had the honor of sitting at the bar at Acme for many lunches and devouring their red beans, rice and sausage. The flavors just pop like a fireworks show in your mouth. If you ever find yourself having a drink or two in the French Quarter any given night, go to Acme the next day for lunch and order this. Fix you right up.
9. Breakfast. Let’s not even bothering to break it down to a specific breakfast food. Just – breakfast. You walk downstairs to the smell of bacon or sausage sizzling in the pan, fresh eggs are about to become something delicious however you like to have them…oh man. I love it all. Breakfast. Just typing the word makes me happy.
10. My Mom’s Baked Chicken. She was a splendid southern cook and had the skills to make all kinds of dishes. But for me growing up, my favorite was her basic baked chicken. I don’t know what she did because I was too stupid back then to pay attention. But whatever it was, that baked chicken was the comfort food of my childhood. I’ll never get to eat it again. She passed away in 2000. But my palate? The memory is still fresh. Thanks, Mom!