Fine Dining

I used to eat deodorant.

Now, before you become completely alarmed and, yes, repulsed, let me say in my defense that it wasn’t last week that I was sitting down to a stick of Secret solid with a knife and fork. This was years ago—decades in fact.

It was the ’70s, and I was a young slip of a thing who played softball, climbed trees and, every now and again, licked my parents’ deodorant. Don’t ask me how or, better yet, why I started doing this. At some age kids are supposed to stop putting things in their mouths—I was apparently left unsupervised in the bathroom before this maturity set in.

To this day, I remember how that Arid Extra Dry tasted. I don’t know if they even make that brand anymore, but if they do, I’m sure the formula has changed so it’s lost its lemony metallic tang. It was the kid of tanginess that made your taste buds tingle and stand at attention. There was a ZING! that let you know you were doing something a little secret, a little forbidden.

Of course, now that I think back, it’s more than a little unsettling that the same glistening roller ball that I used to surreptitiously lick was the same one that was lavishly worked around my parents’ armpits to keep them smelling fresh. Sometimes, I swear, retrospective thinking does no good at all.

In the name of all that is private…God, and embarrassing, why am I telling you this?

Oh, I know why, because I’m going to dinner at a new restaurant tonight—one I’ve been wanting to try ever since it opened. It’s restaurant week here in New York, and that has me thinking about all the great meals I’ve eaten over the years. And, yes, for whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about my food appreciation and how it all developed.

Food has been such a big part of my life that my first journalism job a zillion years ago was at a foodie magazine. My first book focuses on food and meals cooked with family. My entire life is punctuated by food moments—what I’m cooking, what I’m going to cook, what I’m eating, what I’m going to the greenmarket for so then I can cook it and eat it.

A foodie’s life is one that’s always growing; you’re always learning, always creating, and always savoring the bites, morsels and tastes that are as unexpected as a cartwheel or as familiar as a cozy pair of slippers. Even, as in my case, if your appreciation started with some secret licks of deodorant. Sometimes, the most inauspicious beginnings are the ones that eventually lead us to the greatest fulfillment.

Unless, you know, I develop some rare brain tumor from all that deodorant aluminum I ingested. Then screw all that inauspicious beginnings crap.

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