Gastronomic ruts

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UP until a few years ago I thought I was a perfectly normal eater and most everyone else ate funny. My wife - who is also a funny eater - assures me this is not so. People, over a period of time, get into a gastronomic rut, and to have this pointed out invites either indignation or indigestion. Or both. A lot of people put ketchup on French fried potatoes, but a one-time friend of mine put ketchup on mashed potatoes. That is weird by anyone's standards.

In my case, I always suck the pimento out of stuffed green olives before I eat them. If I happen to get a green olive minus the pimento, I have a problem. My wife says I turn the color of the olive, but she exaggerates.

Another thing I do is pull Oreo cookies apart. I eat the plain side first and the frosting side last. When I was accused of being a fuddy-duddy, I tried to change the habit, but it was of no use. I am convinced that is the proper way to eat Oreo cookies.

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Why do people break spaghetti before boiling it? This is a sin. Spaghetti should be thin, cooked at full length, and when eaten turned on a fork. Some say short spaghetti tastes the same as long spaghetti, which is nonsense - a falsehood perpetrated by spaghetti-breakers.

Hot should be hot and cold should be cold. Some restaurants serve water without ice and soup lukewarm. In fact, soup and water come at about the same temperature, if not the same consistency. Waiters look shocked when I ask for colder water and hotter soup.

Steak should be eaten rare or not at all. This is sometimes difficult. While one can send back soup to have it heated, it is more difficult to send back a steak and have it rarefied. Here I have some reluctant flexibility, unless the steak appears looking like a burnt gym shoe.

Oleo is a special pet peeve. I am horrified when I order buttered toast at breakfast and it comes oleoed instead. Soaked and slathered. But worst of all is a glob of oleo floating on top of a bowl of oyster stew.

I think the word ``garni'' should be eliminated from all menus. I could go on, but I don't want readers to get the idea I have funny eating habits.

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