April 13, 2020:

Pretzels were the first food I taught myself to like. The real ones, not the fried crunchy sticks in plastic bags. I liked the idea of hot rolled twisted bread with melted cheese. I bought them at Little Bavaria, a polka club for teenagers in Southern California.

Next was salad. Filippi's pizza in Pacific Peach had exceptionally tangy Italian dressing, and fresh crunchy lettuce. It came with warm bread, and I'd order it with strawberry soda. I didn't know pizza yet, although later I loved theirs. The salad was a big step.

Next was Chinese food. In Chicago, where a friend's parents took us to dinner. I ordered Moo Goo Gai Pan because it was the only dish I'd heard of. It was Laura Petrie's favorite. To me it was unusual but there was chicken and I could handle that. There were flavors and textures. It was good. At school I graduated to Kung Pao, still my favorite today.

Then it was Mexican. Beef tacos, two or three at a time. There were two options, a high one and a low one. The high one was at a stellar family Mexican restaurant walkable from campus. My GF and I went there frequently, stopping at Thrifty's on the way home for ice cream cones and beers. The low one was a fast-food place next to a freeway overpass, also walkable, which had a cheap combo of three tacos, soggy fries, and soda. I don't remember anyone ever going there with me, but, I remember vividly the exact taste of their tacos, although I haven't eaten beef in thirty years. In school I was a Beef Taco Achiever. Fuck the meal plan.

I began gaining proper weight, and having proper sex. Food, sex, and Karl Marx all went together, with garnish of Freud and Fernand Braudel.

At home in summer I forced my parental unit out to restaurants, reluctantly at first, later with greater and greater enthusiasm. By the end of her life she'd become a foodie, as I now very much am myself.

Step by step, overcoming the parochial Ozarkian limitations we were both born into.