For the first nineteen years of her life, Ariel Bates was never able to understand why people made such a big deal over food. They acted as though eating was all they lived for; while for Ariel she just ate to live.
Her parents had raised her to believe that eating out was pretty much the eleventh deadly sin. The food you got in fast food places, they drove into her head, wasn’t real food. It was unhealthy garbage. The dishes served at mid-range priced places were okay for you, but homemade was better; especially when it came to taste.
If the meals she got at home were their idea of deliciousness, then she had no desire to eat out. The taste of her mother’s asparagus always reminded Ariel of a story she heard one time about a man who had been in a plane crash and had to drink his own urine in order to survive until help arrived. She equated spinach with erectile dysfunction. Pork chops were something you used to hit someone over the head with if you wanted to knock them out. Spaghetti was only good for inducing vomit in someone who had swallowed poison. And you only fed someone duck if you were a cardiologist looking for new business.
Going off to college didn’t change her opinion on eating at all. At least the meals her mother cooked had some flavour to them, even if those flavours were gross, but the ones in the cafteria didn’t have any taste to them at all.
It wasn’t until Ariel was forced to live off campus at the start of her second year and cook for herself that she realized food wasn’t the equivalent of flossing your teeth – something you did to prevent disease. It was actually good, if you knew what you were doing.
Ariel didn’t have a clue how to cook anything the day she moved into her bachelor apartment, so she went to the nearest bookstore and bought a cookbook. She made a lot of amazing discoveries that year away from home. Spinach and asparagus don’t have to be boiled until they’re soggier than someone that dared to walk around London, England without an umbrella. Pork chops aren’t supposed to be fried until they’re harder than a hockey puck. Spaghetti noddles, it turns out, aren’t to be smothered in warmed up catsup, and duck isn’t greasy at all if you take the time to skim off the fat every now and then as it roasts. Ariel gained twenty pounds that year. She also acquired a new major: culinary arts.
One day, when you think you’ve tried it all, you will stumble upon an out of the way restaurant and a menu that will blow your mind. That place will be Ariel’s, and she can’t wait to show you what real food tastes like.