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OPINION | GARY SMITH: Judge ye not thy quiche and pumpkin spice

It’s food and drink, not a statement of who you are by Gary Smith | September 16, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Once upon a time (and yes, I am old enough that stories about my past start with "once upon a time"), an author named Bruce Feirstein had a best-seller entitled "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche."

Far more people use that phrase than read the book or understand the point, which is not particularly unusual for people and books (see, for instance, the Bible). But the general idea was that, well, real men don't eat quiche. I mean, it's right there in the title.

Actually, the whole thing was a pretty tongue-in-cheek (but not tongue-in-a-French-tart featuring cheese, vegetables and meat) send-up of American male culture, including our alleged reluctance to step outside established roles or try new things and, in fact, our occasional insistence that doing some of those new things are wrong or unmanly.

Unfortunately, many people took what was a work of satire literally and not figuratively. This, again, is not an uncommon thing.

Now, I need to point out here that prior to reading Feirstein's book, I didn't eat quiche. Not because I didn't think it was manly enough, but because my mother didn't make it. And if she had, likely it would have been extremely overcooked, thanks to her lifelong and almost pathological fear of undercooked food-borne diseases. Let's just say my mom was into "blackened" before it was a culinary thing.

During the interim between leaving my parents' direct care and feeding and getting married, I didn't eat quiche because my dietary inclinations tended to run less toward anything that required specific skill or prep time and toward my meal-time staple, hamburger meat and cream of mushroom soup served over rice. Sort of an early-version Hamburger Helper for those who don't have the time or talent to actually make Hamburger Helper. Which should tell you a lot, because Hamburger Helper is about as hard to make as a glass of water.

After I got married, I did and still often do eat quiche, mostly because the Lovely Mrs. Smith makes it and it's very good. Again, I may be a poor judge, given that my go-to meal was even more simple than Hamburger Helper, a dish for people who don't cook. And also that I thought a good breakfast was two Slim Jims and a Dr. Pepper.

For me, at least, one of the many benefits of marriage is that I'm not dead from whatever you get from eating a steady diet of hamburger meat and soup and whatever's in a Slim Jim. Probably best we don't know.

However, the whole quiche deal was a revelation for me. I mean, not just that you shouldn't take humor writers too seriously when they start discoursing on things like what you ought to eat. Unless they tell you to eat pizza. Which you should.

You also probably shouldn't decline to do something based exclusively on what the "idea" of the thing does or doesn't mean. Quiche is food. It's not a statement.

I mention this because, I'm told it's pumpkin spice time. That is the period in between summer and winter when, apparently in an attempt to either celebrate or push the season, people take to drinking pumpkin spice latte's (shortened to "PSL"). And eating pumpkin spice-flavored food. And generally celebrating all things pumpkin spice.

And in response, because it seems we have to have responses to everything, many of us are having a "quiche" moment. Battle lines have been drawn in the whipped cream. You either hate PSL or you're one of "those people." Whoever "those people" are. And you "autumn spice" or "fall flavors" folks, we're on to you. It's pumpkin spice and we all know it.

The thing is, I've seen this movie before, and the ending is a lot of people making a lot of judgments based on things that are purely matters of taste. I don't particularly like pumpkin spice. But I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler for ordering one. And neither am I for not enjoying it. Besides, I'm saving up for the peppermint mocha wave that hits around Christmas.

If life has taught me one thing, then, well, I wasn't really paying attention. Oh, and we should definitely be less judgmental of things based solely on our often misguided idea of what those things may represent. Try the quiche. Drink the latte. It's OK. And it's OK not to like them.

Tomatoes in chili, though? I mean, we're going to have to talk ...

Print Headline: Quiche? Pumpkin spice?


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