Friday, April 21, 2023

Andy Young: Thank you, class!

By Andy Young

When it comes to inherent rewards, for a teacher nothing tops getting a smile or a verbal “thank you” from an appreciative young person at the end of class. I’ll never get tired of that, no matter how often it occurs.

Another thing I can’t get enough of: students really sinking their teeth into a creative writing assignment. Recently I asked the soon-to-be-graduating seniors in my five Grade 12 classes for 150 or more words on any food item that, given the choice, they would NEVER eat again.

The list of nominal comestibles young people dread and/or despise includes many of the usual suspects (mushrooms, hard boiled eggs, seafood, brussels sprouts, and Spam, among others), several desserts (macaroons, pink frosted sugar cookies and pumpkin pie), some wild game (squirrel and rabbit), and a couple of things I had to look up: durian, a foul-smelling fruit native to Borneo and Sumatra, and Marmite, a sticky British food spread made from the byproducts of beer brewing.

The vividness with which these aspiring writers described the depths of their revulsion ranged from inspiring to breathtaking to worrisome. Some examples:

The putrid smell of an orange makes me ill.

A radish is a spicy root that’s bitter and ruins anything you could put with it. Radishes should just stay in the ground.

Beets are by far the worst food I have ever experienced. They simply taste like dirt.

Even before I dug into the liver pate, I was suspicious. It looked like cat food, and thus was unfit for human consumption.

I can’t imagine how some people choose to eat celery willingly. It’s like opting to feast on soggy tree bark.

Pork chops cooked on a George Foreman grill come out super dry. It’s like you’re killing the same animal twice!

Yes, it’s nutritious, but at what cost? No one should have to go through the trauma of eating bok choy.

If the repulsive texture of olives doesn’t get you, their disgusting taste will send you over the edge. How can a single food be sour, bitter, slimy, and wet all at the same time?

But here’s the most shocking result of my little unscientific survey: by an overwhelming margin, the most detested victual amongst the youthful respondents is one many people couldn’t live without.

Below are some of the milder commentaries concerning a food I personally consider to be delicious.

Tomatoes should cease to exist. I hate the taste of the juice, the smell, the texture, and everything about them. I'm scared that if I ever eat tomatoes again, I will get sick again.

The fear of throwing up again torments me so much, I will never eat any kind of tomatoes again.

The slimy texture of the tomato overshadows everything else. Beef and beans can’t save this disaster, and onions don’t help, either. What could have been a perfectly good spoonful of chili is ruined by the mere presence of a chunky tomato.

The day I first consumed tomatoes was the last day of my childhood innocence. I never thought this world could be so vile until the day I was introduced to tomatoes by parents I had previously thought cared about me. There’s a reason why people throw tomatoes at bad actors, prisoners, and politicians.

Food preferences aside, there’s still nothing like getting spoken affirmation from someone who truly appreciates something you’ve done. And on the theory that others feel the same way I do, thank you Liz, Shawn, Andrew, Sophie, Dakota, Mitch, Henry, Quinn, Seamus, Alex, Maya, Jameson, Sarah, and Emma, for writing better than half this essay for me! <

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