Culture Clash: Controlling what goes in our mouths

Tim Malcolm and John Meo

Meo: So we offered ways to prepare and serve goat cheese. In this man’s world, nothing that comes out of a goat, based on what goes in, should be consumed by humans, even in the most desperate of situations.

Malcolm: Yes, you in your chicken/potatoes/steak/lettuce world. A world with a menu of 20 foods. And they rotate like in an old-fashioned mauve diner on the side of a not-so-busy road. Have you ever tried goat cheese? Seriously, ever?

Meo: Not purposefully, no. I apply a very simple set of rules to my dining. Smell comes first. If it induces a headache or feelings of nausea (usually as a package), it’s out. Visual is second. I shouldn’t have to be convinced something is tasty. It should look the part. Strawberries? Yes! Sea urchin? Nuhohooo.

If it clears those two, touch comes next. A lobster, for example, doesn’t make it beyond test No. 1, but it fails tests two and three as well. A lobster looks like it came from the mind of a mad scientist with low self-esteem. I need metal tools to get to the alleged good stuff? I’m supposed to eat something called (my wife says) tamale — which I’ll define as “the green stuff.”

Malcolm: Your three rules are dumb. Not a lot of people like the smell of seafood, so they bypass it and never experience the freshness of a mussel, or the deliciousness of a swordfish filet. They’re missing an entire world of flavor.

See, I used to be like you — narrow in my food choices and scared to try anything that wasn’t preceded by the words “microwavable,” “fried” or “instant.” I thought all Asians ate nothing but Ramen noodles. What was I thinking? People are predictable, bounded by their own rules and fit to their own little bubbles. Stay in yours, I don’t want you near my lobster.

Meo: I use my wife’s bib to protect me from her meal when she orders lobster, so don’t worry about yours. Because I have rules governing what and how I eat, my menu immediately becomes that of pre-Subway diet Jarred? That’s the natural conclusion you would draw. I’m willing to bet my limited diet, whatever my reasons, is a thousand times healthier than the average person’s. Lean meats, fruits, veggies, heck, I don’t even eat white bread anymore. I eat what I know, I know what I like.

Malcolm: That’s great your diet is rigid and very healthy. That’s what a regular diet is supposed to be. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a tongue for other foods. I’m not saying you should scarf down a lobster every two days. And no way am I saying you should eat white bread. Keep yourself open to new foods and incorporate them in your diet every once in a while. You know, when you’re eating that healthy salad, throw a couple crumbles of goat cheese on top. I swear, it’s pretty good.

Tim Malcolm is the custom publishing editor and John Meo is the design editor of The Norwich Bulletin. Reach them at and