Just when you think you know someone. During a car trip with my husband last weekend, I discovered that the man I have shared my heart, my life and my soul with for over six and a half years had never in his life eaten a BLT sandwich.
How a man gets to his mid-40s without ever having partaken in this American staple, I just couldn't quite wrap my head around. I asked him to repeat what he'd just said, and then I quizzed him. "You're an alien, right? Maybe a spy of some sort sent to infiltrate CNN? By law, you have to tell me - I think."
The combination held little appeal. Even after the threshold of tomato quality in his life raised radically with the ubiquity of heirlooms and local farmstands and Hellmann's finally crossed his lips, it just never occurred to him to find out what all the fuss was about.
That is until, in my state of gobsmackedness and being bored on a long car trip, I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter. Our mutual friends threw a collective conniption, theorizing everything from his being a secret vegan (he's not - I think) to the notion that he's a robot (we're having tests done). They texted, commented and messaged him to correct his culinary course as soon as humanly possible. Our favorite local cafe owner took matters in hand the next day, serving up the very BLT pictured above - and my husband pronounced it to be delicious.
But just as curious as my husband's BLT-less existence was our friends' and our social networks' collective conniption over the whole thing. Discovering that someone with a pretty standard palate and appetite has never had a canonical food - PB&J, hummus, guacamole, sushi, a hard boiled egg or olives - is like finding out they've never seen Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz, been to a baseball game, listened to Thriller or been sung to on their birthday.
While we are a nation knit of gloriously disparate tastes and cultural experiences, when there's a rend in the societal fabric, folks get batty and seek to repair it as quickly as they can. They generally mean well, but there is often umbrage. "How were you raised?" "Didn't anyone love you growing up?" "Are you even from here‽"
Just as my husband's 'mater hating ways had precluded BLTs, there are plenty of reasons why a food may have fallen through the cracks. Perhaps someone was disgusted by a friend's indelicate eating habits, they abide by a religiously, culturally or ethically restricted diet, a parent had an allergy or aversion, or there was plain old lack of easy access.
I recall an intensive grilling administered by the parents of a college boyfriend, upon finding out that I'd never eaten a cannoli. "As in leave the gun. Take the cannoli! From The Godfather? You've...you've...never seen The Godfather? What kind of Italian are you‽"
One raised in suburban Kentucky with no other Italian relatives nearby and a mother who served sauce from a jar, I guess. These things just happen, and the best we can do is to patch the holes, either in secret or with the help of friends. You just have to be prepared for a little bit of ribbing.
Speaking of which, my boss Cybil didn't eat ribs until her mid-20s. Fess up to your odd food gaps in the comments below, and we just might include your story in an upcoming feature on Eatocracy.