The Soupster hears about eating with your hands.
The Soupster watched his friend Rory chew raw broccoli with his mouth wide open. Then, Rory used his hands to pick up another piece of broccoli, dip the stalk into a reddish brown spicy sauce and add the morsel to the slurry he was already working in his mouth.
“Rory,” said the Soupster. “You are one disgusting eater.”
The two men stood at the island in Rory’s kitchen, grazing on the ingredients that would be their broccoli beef in about an hour. Rory was showing the Soupster how to cook it. “I come from a long line of disgusting eaters,” Rory admitted. “My grandfather and my great-grandfather were notorious for eating with their mouths open. And burping very loud. My great granny used to make my great grandpa eat in a separate room from the guests.”
“Hard core,” said the Soupster. “I noticed you left your father off that list. How did he eat?”
“My father was a gentle man,” said Rory. “The mouth breathers were all on my mother’s side.”
“Yup, my mother was the colorful one in my family,” he continued. “I was a little ashamed of my quiet father. No, not ashamed. Just that I never expected very much from him.”
“What do you mean?” the Soupster asked.
“I had a lot of friends growing up and their fathers always seemed to loom large in their lives,” said Rory. “They might love their fathers or fear them or both, but they worried about how their fathers were going to react to something they did. I never worried about what my father would think of what I did.”
“Maybe you thought your father was fair and you didn’t need to be concerned,” the Soupster said.
“No,” Rory said sadly. “I just never thought about him.”
Then he got animated. “There was this one time I remember being really proud of my father. At a chicken dinner.
“My little league team took first place one season and all the kids were invited to an awards banquet to get their trophies. Me and my Dad went. My family didn’t belong to a country club or go to a lot of weddings, so the whole get-dressed-up-to-eat thing was off my radar.
“The shindig was held in the dining room of a fraternal organization – I forget which animal. A bunch of long tables — everybody sat grouped with their coach and team. The first course served was your standard fruit cup and the headman of Little League welcomed everyone while we ate the cubes of canned pears and peaches with little spoons. Next came an invocation, more speeches and a course of soup with large spoons.
“Then they served the oven-baked chicken course. We were wearing ties, so naturally we all thought we had to eat the chicken with a knife and a fork. But none of the kids and only about a third of the adults managed to eat. Most of the kids just flailed around.
“My father watched all this in his quiet way. To the left and the right of him, people struggled with their knife and fork. And then my father reached down and picked up the chicken with his hands – he had a thigh, I think – and he chomped down. Etiquette said you only have permission to eat fried chicken with your hands. But my father didn’t care. Within three minutes, everybody in that banquet hall was happily chomping on the baked chicken in their hands.
“My father was a pretty good guy,” he concluded.