If only I knew then what I know now

I remember a time as a small child when I would sit at the kitchen table for hours staring at my plate refusing to eat something because I thought it had onions in it. In my house growing up, you ate what was on your plate or you didn’t leave the dinner table. That resulted in some long nights for yours truly.

Today, there are few things more appetizing to me than an onion. I love them raw, fried, sautéed, grilled  or Funyon’ed.
Funyons, the onion-like potato chip delicacy available at your favorite local convenience store, is off limits at my house. My wife Lisa forbids me to have them. She alleges the smell of a Funyon stays with you for days. I’ve never heard the guys complain on our many road trips, which always begin with an early pit stop for a big bag of Funyons.

Joel McNeece

It’s amazing how your tastes change as you grow older –?music, clothes and especially food. I loved everything fried as a kid. Now I prefer all the same foods grilled or broiled.

My oldest friend, Chris Brewer, a graduate of Forest Hill High School in Jackson, loved sardines when we were young. Anytime we went on a fishing expedition, whether in search of bream at his grandfather’s farm in Bolton, catfishing near my grandfather’s home in Raymond, or bass fishing on the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Jackson, Brewer always brought along at least one tin of sardines.

He scarfed them down like he was eating a Hershey bar. You couldn’t watch him and not think those must be delicious. So like clockwork, every time I would give one a try, thinking this time their appeal will unveil itself to me. It never happened.
The last sardine I ate was as nasty as the first.

Fast forward several decades and I find myself picking restaurants based on the fact they serve great raw fish. (Note: sardines aren’t truly raw fish, but they aren’t cooked by heat.)

Lisa and I are regulars at the sushi restaurants in Oxford. We enjoy Kabuki when we’re with the kids, who enjoy the entertainment of the Hibachi grill, but always opt for the sushi bar or a trip to Jinsei in east Oxford if we’re sans children.

Among our favorites are the lobster roll with asparagus, cucumber, masago, and avocado and the Nikko – a combination of smoked salmon, unagi, tamago, asparagus, cream cheese and avocado.

There are so many other appetizing sushi rolls on the menu such as Jari Jari, Bangkok, Atsui, Shirohama and Midori, which includes a tempura sweet potato, that it’s always difficult to make a choice.

I can’t help but grin at the thought of that kid at my parents’ kitchen table who would have genuinely debated whether to taste a piece of sushi or feel the impact of my dad’s thick leather belt on the backside.

If only I had known then what I know now.

Email Joel McNeece at joelmcneece@gmail.com & follow him on Twitter @joelmcneece