What's the worst thing you've ever eaten? I'm talking about something that made you absolutely retch your insides up, something so vile that it changed your diet forever.
For me, it was a cup-a-soup. Or rather, it wasn't.
Cup-a-soups were a staple of my diet when I was a child. Whenever my Mam was too 'busy' to cook for us, she would demand that we make ourselves a cup-a-soup and have some bread to dip in it. There were more than a few times that I went a week or more with bread as the only solid food I ate at home. Thank God for free school meals that's all I can say.
Anyway, there was a plastic tub in the cupboard in the kitchen - I think it had started out as an ice cream tub - that was always well stocked with sachets of soup. So one Saturday night, I come home from a long hard day of interfering with bowls scoreboards and pressing emergency stop buttons on ski slope rope pulleys, to find that I have to make my own meal. To the tub, grab the first packet to hand and we're away.
So I pour the contents into my mug. Then I boil the kettle. Then I pour the water into the cup. (And that's how you make cup-a-soups. It's like one level of difficulty up from Pot Noodles in that you have to transfer the contents from one container to another before pouring water on them. The hardship!)
The powder won't dissolve. The lumps aren't going away. There are floaters galore on the surface, and I can feel a claggy lump in the bottom of the cup with my spoon. Also, the stench is awful. What could have gone wrong? Well, I hadn't made a cup-a-soup for one.
It seems that the ice cream tub was now also home to some sachets of casserole mix stuff. In grabbing the first packet I came across I'd grabbed the wrong stuff and now I was trying to make, in a cup, something that was designed to form the basis of a casserole for a whole family. Wasn't going to happen.
Now, under normal circumstances, you'd tip it out and start again, wouldn't you? Except that would mean having used two things and money didn't bloody well grow on trees; or that was my Mams view of the matter. I knew better than to argue because when she was screaming directly into my face it was usually a pretty good sign that her mind was made up. Nor was it acceptable to throw it out, not make a replacement and just do without. Apparently that would be a waste, and we couldn't have that; I was to eat it, simple as that.
I tried, but... I mean, every time I raised it to my lips the stench itself was enough to trigger my gag reflex. Anyway, long story short (I know, I know) I drank a little bit, under the threat of a beating, then ran to the loo under the stairs and threw up. Then I went back to find she was still standing there, waiting to watch me drink the rest. 4 times I vomited, and 4 times she berated me, 'It's your own fucking fault, you should watch what you're fucking doing'.
I never did finish the whole thing, if only because she got bored. By this point my trips to the toilet were dry heave only and my tears were probably losing their novelty value so she wandered off and I threw the rest of the stuff away. And went to bed hungry.
Here's the thing though; for many years, I was never able to eat anything with a heavy meat smell, (I'm a vegetarian, and although this incident didn't prompt the switch, it certainly made it easier to stick to), or eat anything that I'd seen (or knew was) prepared from powder mixes; the thought would come rushing back of those claggy lumps and the gagging would start up straight away. I'm pretty much over it now, but...
So there you are, another pleasant stroll down memory lane. It's been a while I realise, but I'm trying to get the blog schedule back on track and hope to be here next week, though I make no promises. Until whenever, then...