Pythia Defool’s advice column, “Ask Roger,” was a mainstay in the Chattanooga Tribune from 1976-1983. It was later renamed “Ask Pythia” following the landmark Supreme Court Case, Lady v. Florida, which granted women the right to have their names appear in print. Dear Pythia is a revival of her classic advice column and is composed in beautiful downtown Tampa Bay. For advice, email DearPythia@Gmail.com
A friend had me over for dinner and the food was exceptionally bland. I contemplated whether it would be polite to ask for hot sauce, or really anything to create some flavor, but I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to ask. Do you have any recommendations?
In poor taste,
Growing up, we ate food for one purpose: to stave off death. Back then, there were only three food groups: meat, canned, and beige. On most days, we’d just eat ham, canned peas, and mashed potatoes. Flavor wasn’t even invented until I graduated from finishing school.
I’ll never forget tasting flavor for the first time. It was the night my great uncle Rogers was acquitted on all charges and came home to the barn. The whole town celebrated with a pan of Icky Sticky Crusty Crunch (crushed soda crackers over a bed of Crisco and canned cherries). That night I learned the awful truth that flavor was just a means of weaponizing food. Boy, you wouldn’t believe the chaos that erupted once the ruffians tasted those crispy gelatinous cherry blobs. Cats were burned, spirits were crushed, and Rogers was back in the clink by sunrise.
It sounds like you grew up with flavor and expect it of your food. That’s not your fault. The church failed us. So, my advice to you is twofold:
Stop licking the sweaty palms of Big Salt, you pathetic sloth. Once you think beyond your taste buds, you’ll see that life isn’t about unlocking your jaw from one hedonistic meal to the next. Look, I get it, I was once in my thirties. I remember succumbing to indulgence and blacking out into a heaping bowl of ketchup noodles.
You’ll grow out of it! You’re better off desensitizing your tongue willingly than waiting to be dragged into a retirement commune where Nurse Ratched will force you to slurp tapioca paste out of a paper straw.
If you’re too weak to resist flavor’s undulating dance, then carry some MSG. It’ll transform the blandest meal from a Crayola marker into the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks. When your host asks why you’re sprinkling pocket powder onto their Yukon Potato Surprise, you’ll admit you were raised wrong and then politely ask for a second serving of steamed spinach.