I don’t know…have I mentioned before that I hate meatballs?? Anyone who knows me well knows this fact about me. I hate meatballs. Here’s the story of why.
Back in 1998 I studied abroad in Segovia, Spain and lived with a host family. One of the staple meals in their rotation was meatballs served in some kind of a thin, liquidy sauce. Otherwise known in Spanish as albondigas con salsa muy rica. Anyway, the very first time I was served this meal approximately 6 ginormous meatballs were piled up onto my plate. [The Spaniards had this idea in their heads that ALL Americans eat HUGE portions for EVERY meal all the time.] There was no saying “just one please;” I was always served numerous helpings of whatever it was we were eating. And then felt guilty if I didn’t finish something, so more often than not I found myself gagging down meals that would have been plenty palatable if only I’d had to eat one of each item, instead of 17 of each item. Anyway, I didn’t really like the meatball meal from the start. I could have handled one meatball, but the flavor of them just turned me off and after being forced to eat six of the buggers, I just didn’t think I could stomach that meal again. Something about the combination of wet, ground up mystery meat shaped into a ball and served in a greasy watery sauce just didn’t do it for me. I hoped the albondigas were a once-in-a-blue-moon meal.
Much to my dismay, my Spanish host family let nothing go to waste. The leftover meatballs appeared before me again the next day for lunch. Two days in a row of having to gag these things down?? It was a feat of epic proportions, let me tell you. I really, REALLY hoped these were a once-in-a-blue-moon meal. But I was not so lucky. The albondigas were prepared every few weeks; there were always leftovers, so I normally had to suffer through two days in a row of eating them. I learned to tell the host parents that I was really not that hungry on those days; had just eaten too many pastries in town, etc. etc.
As my final days in Segovia approached, I hoped to the almighty that I could make it through the end of my program without having to eat the meatball meal again. And then there I was, my second-to-last day in Segovia before taking off for a month of EuroRail travel across the continent. I was bidding farewell to my family, packing my bags, and envisioning many a European adventure. And what do I get served for lunch? Freakin’ ALBONDIGAS. I gagged them down one final time- or so I thought. Later that night I was wandering through the apartment, stopped by the kitchen, and saw the pot of albondigas setting out on the counter. Not refridgerated. Not covered up. Just sitting there. [The Europeans don’t have as high of food preservation standards as we do, I’ve noticed]. So then I knew, I KNEW, that there were leftovers, and god help me but I’d have to eat them ONE MORE TIME for lunch the next day, right before I left on the train to France. I successfully gagged down the leftovers the next day, all the while thinking to myself “if these non-refridgerated albondigas make me sick I’m going to be irate!!!”
Let’s jump ahead now a good number of hours. My three companeras and I are on a Talgo overnight train from Madrid to Paris. We have a lovely sleeping compartment for four, and we all have a dinner consisting of Spanish bocadillos (sandwiches) lovingly packed by our host moms. We dive into our bocadillos shortly after rolling out of Madrid. I know what you’re thinking- I opened my bocadillo to find albondigas!! Luckily, no. But what I did find was a cheese bocadillo that had not been refridgerated for hours, thus causing major cheese sweat to form on my cheese. Ew. I ate it anyway. After all, it was manchego cheese, sweaty or not, it was still good. Later, we all retire to our sleeping cots and rest the bumpy western European night away.
At some point in the wee hours of the morning I am awakened by some major rumblings in my GI tract. I’ll spare you the gory details, other than to say I can’t really envision anything more horrifying than breaking out in cold sweats while hovering over a dirty train toilet and watching the tracks speed by underneath you. I was sick- disgustingly, violently sick. Lucky me got to revisit those meatballs once and for all. Those unrefridgerated, mystery-meated, grease-laden meatballs. There was just no escaping them.
Hence, I hate meatballs. I’ve tried to eat them a number of times since the Talgo/Albondiga Incident of 1998. But I just can’t do it. Even something with a similar consistency to meatballs gives me the heebie-jeebies- meatloaf for example. Don’t really like that either. I also can’t go near any cheese that’s even slightly sweaty. Too many bad memories.
So today when my son requested a MEATBALL SUB at the sandwich shop?? I just about fell over.
Do YOU have any foods with a storied history that you can no longer eat??? I’d love to hear about them!