#157 – Epicurean Delights

Perhaps because of her marketing background, my wife will go to almost any length to please customers, my clients included. Unfortunately, her unmatched willingness to kiss ass doesn’t square well with certain other qualities. Sophia tends to be gullible; her culinary tastes don’t extend to exotics; and she retains an urban northerner’s inherent prejudice against all things backwoods. Each of those traits were on display during our dinner with the Williams.

Randy Williams is a client of mine. He and his wife Cindy are native Georgians. Outdoor enthusiasts, they enjoy camping, fishing and hunting. Most importantly, as I recently discovered, they’re shameless practical jokers as well.

Up until a month ago, I’d never met Cindy and never interacted with Randy in a social setting. Sophia hadn’t met or spoken to either of them. That all changed when Randy conveyed an invitation to dinner at their vacation home: a rustic cabin in the North Georgia woods. When he told me our destination, I ill-advisedly confided my wife’s biases.

When Cindy served dinner that night, I felt as shocked as Sophia to hear the entrée’s name: “raccoon stew.” Both of our hosts kept utterly straight faces, and both of them dug in with gusto. In the realm of eating, my attitude’s always been “when in Rome…” So I didn’t hesitate to sample the unusual dish. Surprisingly, I thought raccoon tasted a lot like ordinary beef.

I knew Sophia, unlike me, would be apoplectic at the thought of sampling stewed rodent. Yet, amazingly, she ate some! As I learned that night, her intense desire to please a client overcame her inherent revulsion at the yokels’ choice of provender.

Randy called me the next day to ask how Sophia had enjoyed her “raccoon.” When he cracked up, I realized we’d been had. He admitted that Cindy’s stew contained nothing more than standard pot roast. As he also confided, his wife would sooner starve than actually sample any small animal more exotic than a rabbit. I meant to inform Sophia of the joke; but as often occurs, one thing led to another and I forgot to tell her.

Last night, Randy and Cindy came to our house for dinner. I’d neglected to ask Sophia for her intended menu, so I chuckled as much as our guests when she announced the main course as “squirrel pot pie.” Despite knowing her well, I found her poker face convincing. She stuck to her guns too, insisting that the nutty, chicken-like meat was in fact squirrel.

As soon as our guests departed, I asked Sophia what she’d actually served. Her answer certainly surprised me: “Richard; why was everyone shocked to hear I’d cooked squirrel? After all, Cindy made raccoon for us, so I figured she and Randy would appreciate another backwoods recipe. Was I wrong?”

Ordinarily, I don’t fib to my wife or clients. In this case, however, it looks like white lies will have to do for both. I started last night, when I kept my mouth shut in response to Sophia’s question. And when Randy calls me tomorrow to compliment the Mrs. on her “practical joke,” I plan to agree with him that it was a good one, and leave it at that.

A backwoods delicacy, or so I’ve heard


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