The Insurmountable Slice

The Honors staff’s sentiments about food are nicely summed up by Monty Python’s Michael Palin: “All I ask of food is that it doesn’t harm me.” Compose an essay about the worst meal of your life. We are interested in the details of your experience, including where this meal took place, why you were there, who was with you, and how you dealt with it.

I consider myself a food enthusiast. That is, I love food in all of its aspects; the obvious nutiritional significance, the delightful variations in flavor and texture, the cultural connections, and sometimes even the visual beauty of it. One may be hard-pressed to present to me a dish that I can not appreciate in one way or another. Due to this, I find it nearly impossible to recall an entire meal that could honestly be considered my “worst.” Rather, I will speak of a single foodly entity, a slice of cheese – one which revealed to me the darker side of humanity.It was a cool Saturday, sometime during April or May if I recall correctly. I had slept in late that day, resolving no earlier than noon that I should roll out of bed and get something done. Assessing the to-do list, I found that a visit to my grandparents’ house was in order. It was to be a typical trip: I would chat with them about family goings-on, empathize with their complaints or opinions on this and that, munch on cookies or pretzels, then leave. Easy enough, I had done it a thousand times before.As I made my way to their house, I noticed that the sky was becoming increasingly dark. Life seemed to have been frozen then: no animals frolicking alongside the road, no fellow motorists ahead or behind, the instrumentation in my car seemed even to slow in its various intervals. I cautiously pulled into the driveway and hurried to the door, knowing that something was bound to go horribly wrong. The moment I came into the sight of my grandparents, my grandfather jumped up out of his chair with more excitement than I had ever seen in a man. He proudly brought from the kitchen a large decorative box marked on the side with the words “Cheeses of the World.” Great, I thought, I love cheese, but before I could ask which variety he was dishing out to me, I was introduced to a rectangular blob of something I had never seen before. It was surrounded by wheat crackers arranged in such a way that it appeared to me as though they were trying to get away from the stuff in the center. I was probably correct in that assumption.I leaned closer to the plate to evaluate the chunk only to have every receptive sense in my body assaulted by the mysterious thing in front of me. It smelled like ripe baby diapers, it looked like what might be found inside, and I could even taste the nauseating vapor creeping into my mouth. What could it be? I asked myself, wondering also if my grandpa was playing some type of sick joke. But by the way he encouraged me with his eyes and exuberant hand gestures, I could tell it was no jest. “Come on boy, try a bit! It’s limburger” he said in an almost angry tone. “Don’t tell me you’re not gonna’ eat it.” With that I gingerly applied a dime sized portion to the corner of a cracker then placed it on my tongue. What followed was a rather violent involuntary squinching of the face. Limburger tastes as bad as it smells. I managed to choke down that first sample, but I could not, for the life of me, stomach another bite. I felt that if any more entered my mouth, every contractile muscle in my digestive system would squeeze shut at the same time, exuding anything within. I stepped away from the stinky cheese and told my grandpa that I had had enough.Now my grandfather is one of those guys who believes strongly in his various weird foods, so when I refused to consume the remainder of that horrendous limburger, he was deeply hurt. He didn’t say much during the rest of my visit. As I went out the door, I looked back and saw that he was still scowling at me. I left my grandparent’s house utterly defeated: mentally, emotionally, and gastrointestinally.Since that day, I have been much less arrogant in my claims of being undaunted by unfamiliar food. I still wonder from time to time what could possibly have inspired anyone to create such an offensive thing, this limburger. That semisoft pseudo-slice of “cheese” was very effective in proving to me that evil really can manifest itself physically. It is indeed the worst food I have ever experienced, and I will avoid it in the future at all costs. Moreover, I have come to the realization that war and deforestation are among the least of our worries, for as long as humans are capable of and willing to create limburger cheese, the world will never be safe. Through this vile concoction, it has been proven to me that humankind can never be trusted.

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