Meals that Go Down Ugly

Growing up in New Jersey with three older Italian stallions as brothers, the petty but powerful pressure to bulk and build up muscle was always pervasive. I could remember using my brothers’ arms to attempt pull ups at the age of ten. That said, although full of carbs, our Italian diet was a steady intake of delicious and healthy pastas, greens and meats, whether the meal was our mom’s ziti with broccoli, Italian-style cheeseburgers (with zesty garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano) or her home town panzerotti–a tightly pressed dough stuffed with garden-fresh basil, luscious red sauce and bubbly fresh mozzarella.

Such a delectable ethnic diet left no room for the unwholesome, twisted and even morbid diets that our American counterparts consumed. But, living in America, I was naturally exposed to the epitome of diners known as the International House of Pancakes.

During one joyful and dreadful evening, several of my friends broke bread over stacks of dough discs, bowls of syrup and links of sausage. We laughed until the day turned dark and our humor darker. Instead of telling jokes, I wanted to see one, so as the others laughed, cackled and burped, I surreptitiously concocted a tsunami mix of water, syrup, ice cream, ketchup and soda, inviting hell itself into the revolting refreshment.

Dares ensued once the crowd ascertained my actions. They pinned Jason up against me, and, agreeing to only sip if I sipped, Jason hesitantly grabbed a straw, and we quickly, simultaneously slurped the molten mix. Coughing and nearly passing out, Jason removed his straw, the crowd roared in laughter and I revealed another secret.

I never let one ounce of that non-Italian muck touch my stomach. Of course they scorned me, but that would’ve been nasty!

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