Stories on the edge of familiarity
Taste and See that the Lord is Like Vegemite

Taste and See that the Lord is Like Vegemite

(Note: the video has bloopers. Just saying)

Taste and see that the Lord is good
and that he tastes like Vegemite
or red bean paste
seaweed
or poutine

(maybe even jellyfish)

Strange and requiring of bravery to try
this is something you’ve heard bad about
something you’ve heard is weird
something (like poutine) that looks like
well
you can feel your arteries hardening already
and for a long time, you avoid him
or that part of him
you’re afraid
what if he tastes awful?

what if I’m allergic?
(granted, you don’t find that out the first time you’ve eaten something
you learn that the second time
like a sneak attack
it took me two tries of red bean paste to decide
once and for all
that it’s one of my favourite things
not the same as allergies
but it’s important to try things twice)

I’d heard seaweed was a thing people eat
and I wasn’t ever sure if it’d be for me
until there it was, sitting with all the other food
roasted, salted
seaweed had always been the thing I hated in the ocean
the thing that touched my legs when I swam
and made me shiver
ugh ugh ugh
why would people eat that?
But the red bean paste had gone over well
(not the sea cucumber or pigs ears
but they were entertaining, so)
I hesitated before trying it
what if it was awful and I had to spit it out?
There were a lot of people in the room
and they liked seaweed
oh dear
so I tried one piece
and it turns out
whenever I eat it now, it’s the whole package or nothing
like chips
but with B vitamins and trace minerals
(and umami)

Taste and see that the Lord is good
we hear that and think
of all the ways we’re used to him
all the ways we’re comfortable with him
what we’ve done with him since we were children
how we saw our parents behave with him
maybe that leads us to reject the statement outright
or only accept it some of the time
or only in certain ways
one thing’s for certain: we limit it
we don’t want to let him in our life in that way
it’s undignified
scary
we’ve never known how to trust anyone with that before
the thought of it brushes against our legs and we shudder
we’re picky eaters when it comes to God

Red bean paste is remarkably difficult to describe
but imagine a Canadian
surrounded by Koreans and Chinese
as they all wait for her verdict
when she tries the ice cream fish thing with red bean paste
She takes a bite
makes a face
not a bad face
more like a confused and questioning face
“What on earth did I just put in my mouth?”
But she takes a little longer to taste it
and finds there’s a bit in there
among all the strangeness
that she really, really likes
and she thinks to herself
“This is worth it to figure out what that’s about”
and so she eats the whole thing
and discovers
yeah
red bean paste is awesome

A Canadian trying poutine, on the other hand
you’d think I’d have had it earlier than fifteen
but thank goodness for French class
and for one student having a deep fryer
because a concoction of fries, gravy, and cheese
is not something you eat when your mom is a nurse
or when you don’t like gravy
but poutine
you can’t be a Canadian and not have had it at least once
I’m sure there’s a law or something
and I was sure I wouldn’t like it
because of the gravy
but I’d try it anyways
and, unlike cheesecake
(which I don’t like no matter how much I want to
and no matter how many times I try it)
having gravy
was different this time
context matters

Some things about God still sound batshit crazy
can I really let go of worrying?
What if I forget what I was supposed to do next?
What if I miss something and that’s it
there goes something God had promised
wave at it as it walks by
and out of my life forever
I wonder what would happen if I supported this with fries
(whatever fries look like in this analogy)
(I’m really hoping you know
because I have the feeling they’re something
but that something is
well, it’s evading description
maybe it has a word allergy
I hope it’s temporary)

So, Vegemite
a lot of people don’t like it
more people do if they’ve grown up with it
none of those people live near me
(or, at least, I don’t know them)
days worth of driving
weeks worth of driving
and no one I know in that radius likes Vegemite
no one explains why
it’s just generally accepted that Vegemite
like red bean paste
and seaweed
(and possibly poutine, if you’re thinking too many
cardiovascular thoughts)
doesn’t sit well on the palate unless you’ve been raised with it
like I was raised with black licorice
if you don’t develop a taste for it as a child
good luck trying to like it now
without a lot of work
and effort
and eating a lot of it while hating it
until (if you stick with it long enough) things shift
and you very slowly begin to like it
a bit
maybe
(probably not)
so when I spread butter on my bread
and then some Vegemite
I hesitated
but there were Australians on the internet
who wanted to know what I thought
(and I wanted to know what I thought
if they hadn’t sent it to me, I would have searched
high and low
until I found some
so I could report back with the verdict
Sometimes we get tired of letting everyone tell us what we’ll like or not
and decide to find out for ourselves)
I steeled myself with the first bite
thinking about the jellyfish I’d thought were noodles
(spoilers: they’re not)
and the milk tea that’s better classified as soup
(not at all sweet, more savoury, and with finely chopped walnuts in it)
and how Vegemite looks sort of like Nutella
but it’s yeast extract
sweet is nowhere to be found here
but salty is, apparently?
And whatever it is people don’t like about it
that unknown I can’t possibly prepare for
but I really hope I don’t end up having to throw out this toast
and the butter
it would be a real shame to toss the butter
butter
My mouth closed on the Vegemite
my taste buds made cringing contact
and I laughed
was this what everyone was so scared of?
It was oddly familiar
and I definitely
absolutely
for sure
liked it.

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