• Jennifer E. Rose

Sour Clam Chowder

Updated: May 6

You know those moments when you think, "This cannot get any worse". Oh, but it can get much worse...always.

When we are young, little wonderful bundles of joy newly born into this chaos we call life, we are the center of the universe. Everyone caters to us. We are the most important creation since, well...ever. If you are lucky enough to be the elder of other siblings, this newness wears off as soon as number two or - dare we say - three pops its attention-sucking head. If, however, you are the unfortunate youngest child, you never fully grasp the concept of other humans until you are 39 years old with children of your own and realize that you are a bit self-centered. At least, that's how it was for me.

Yep. I'm self-centered.

I am centered on my life, my family, my career, my success, my happiness. Why not? Who else is going to worry about it? I'm the one that knows best what I want, but not always what I need. So, basically...39 is the new 4. Makes sense to me. Adulting is hard work. I still don't want to grow up.

So what does this have to do with sour clam chowder? Well, it is all a matter of perspective. Let me explain...

My father was a strict and structured man and a really great dad. What he said was law and I did not break the law...most of the time. He held the belief that if he put food in front of me, I should eat it. I did not share this belief...especially when it came to sauerkraut or clam chowder. I recall a very specific encounter with clam chowder. One evening my dad made this vulgar vocabulary of foul-smelling edibles closely resembling vomit in presentation and odor. It will remain deeply imbedded into my psyche for the remainder of my existence. I will never forget that putrid scent; I thought I was going to die a slow, toxic, horrifying death.

I did not want to eat it, I refused to eat it. My father simply stated (what I remember to be), "You won't leave this table until you eat your dinner." Um...no. From my perspective...

this horrible man whom I thought loved me, was now attempting to poison me with New England's finest.

I was determined to win this battle. My primary tactic was to appeal to his sympathetic side. I quickly had to re-evaluate my options. Next was defiance. Little did I know that he was the origin of my inherited strong will. He offered advice that I dare not accept, "You'd better eat it now, before it gets cold."

I learned multiple lessons that night.

  1. Listen to my father.

  2. My father would always win.

  3. Never, in ANY case, eat cold clam chowder.

I made several more fatalistic attempts to appeal to his non-existent softer side, but to no avail. He was claiming victory and that first distinct taste of this rancid meal brought the first real sense of defeat I had ever truly experienced. I thought, "This cannot possibly get worse." But, it was only the first bite. It wasn't like eating a hot jalapeño. My taste buds didn't numb from the shock of the first taste. I was lucky enough to enjoy every last slurp of soured stench. I wanted nothing more than to regurgitate so I could claim my own small victory, but even my anatomy was against me.

My father won. I had ingested the poison.

I had consumed what seemed like sour clam chowder. I did not perish, although I wanted to.

So you see, it is all a matter of perspective. It was cold, not sour. He was teaching me a valuable lesson, not trying to kill me. I didn't think it could get worse than eating clam chowder. It did. I ate cold clam chowder. Nothing could have been worse, right? Well maybe...

Sour Clam Chowder.

Until next time...



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