Tuesday, September 20, 2011

today's special

"c'mon. you can do it. give it a whirl," he said and laughed his loud, contagious, big-hearted laugh.

she stared into the plate. he was pushy—he was pushing her now—and sometimes he drove her crazy, but she loved him so much she felt as if she could, and would, do almost anything for him.

life had always seemed easy for her brother. he loved life and life loved him. he quickly latched on to an almost magical ability to make things work the way he wanted them to work. as he traveled around the globe on business, her brother learned early in his career how to win over customers; he charmed people with his good looks, his fine mind, and his razor-sharp wit. he did what he had to do to make deals. he didn't squirm when he saw what was put in front of him; he tackled it head on.

she had been born in illinois like her brother, but unlike her brother she rarely left home. she could add up a grand total of four states she had visited in her life, about a week in each: missouri, iowa, indiana and ohio. she had never been on an airplane. she had never left the country. in fact, she hadn't been out of illinois in years.

in illinois there were places where the land stretched out for miles in monotonous, flat-as-a-pancake acreage filled with nothing but a blur of corn. she was a meat and potatoes and corn kind of gal, as boring and unchanging as the fields around her home. she didn't like to try the new foods her girlfriends were always giving her recipes for, like wood fire grilled salmon with mango and lime salsa, or kiwis, couscous, kalamata olives, or reductions of anything. she liked her food plain, plain and simple—simple food from her good land.

but her brother was daring, and he was daring her to just do it; he was not about to let her give up on challenging herself to overcome small obstacles thrown into her comfort zone. it was not in his nature to give up. after all, he hadn't made millions of dollars by giving up. he was adventurous and fearless and curious about the world.

when he made his way through faraway lands he was always a bold eater, plowing into edgy dishes involving such gastronomic delights as chapulines a la mexicana  (grasshoppers), the larvae of tenebrio molitor (beetles), escargot, octopus, galleria mellonella (wax moth larvae), blow fish, roasted taratulas, and mexican caviar called escamoles (ant eggs).

one time after he returned from china he told his sister about an entree his host suggested he try called thrice screaming mice: the newborn mice scream the first time when they are picked up with chopsticks, the second time when they are dipped in sauce, and the third time when they are placed in the mouth.

she heaved a sigh. her hands shook a little as she firmly grasped the bright red monster ominously displaying its claws and antennae and beady black eyes for her. she thought if he can do it so can i, and proceeded to snap off the lobster's tail.

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