I've always wanted to be a vegetarian, but there's one thing that stands in my way:
I eat meat.
I can't help it.
But there's one meat that I don't eat much of, and that's pork. Why do I not eat much pork, you ask?
Well ... it's because I'm afraid of it.
Cured pork, like bacon and ham, doesn't bother me. It's the pork chops mostly. I don't know what past event inadvertantly touched off my porcine paranoia - maybe it was the food handlers' class I had to take when I was eighteen? - but whatever happened, it has proved effective: I am ridiculously, excessively nervous about getting food poisoning from it.
I can't explain my hysteria. It doesn't extend to other uncooked meats - I could practically lick a piece of raw chicken without flinching (I said practically), and rock a meat dress like Lady Gaga.
Photo credit: Reuters. With a little help from my mad photo-editing skillz.
But you should see me cook pork chops. Open package, wash hands. Prepare chops, careful not to touch pan, wash hands. Dry hands with specially-appointed pork towel. Leave towel and pork-handling utensils far away from other, non-pork-contaminated surfaces. Rinse eyeballs with sterile saline solution after looking at raw pork chops (okay, just kidding, but I swear I feel that insane about it sometimes). OMG, did I just touch the pork towel? Wash hands. OMG. Did I lay that clean fork next to the pork fork? Wash fork. ... And hands. Cook pork chops until they're practically burnt, removing them from pan no fewer than six times to cut into them and decide they're not done enough. Apply heavy-duty lotion to poor chapped, overwashed hands.
Don't get me wrong, I think pork chops are tasty - but from the second the very first bite passes my lips, I'm like super-attuned to the goings-on of my digestive system. Even the tiniest gurgle leaves me wondering if it's the start of an epic heave-fest. For hours after eating pork, I worry that food poisoning will strike me down. I watch my kids like a hawk for fear that I've accidentally poisoned them, too. I fearfully envision the disastrous consequences of an entire sickness-stricken family, with me too ill myself to properly care for everyone. It's like picturing the apocalypse, y'all. Let me rephrase that: the aporkalypse.
Curtis does not share my neurosis. He is brazenly unafraid of undercooked chops. It drives me a little bit crazy, in fact, because he'll come up as I'm testing one for doneness and shovel half of it into his mouth. "It's done," he'll say, even though I could've sworn I saw the teeniest hint of pink inside (or was that due to the kitchen lighting?).
Thus far, throughout the nearly thirteen years I've been cooking meals for Curtis and myself and whoever else happens to be at our family table, I've never sickened anyone. But you can bet that - even as I smile and take a bite of the picture-perfect pork chop I've just prepared - I'm secretly agonizing over a food-poisoning epidemic that hasn't even happened.
Are you "weird" about any foods?