Too Briny of an Egg Yolk to Swallow

The thought of it in my mouth makes me salivate, but not in the good way. It is the thing that I have tried time after time, and still have not managed to grow a fondness for it. As a child, you try things for the first time that leave a sour taste in your mouth such as broccoli, peas, or zucchini. However, as our sense of humor begins to develop, so do our taste buds. There are foods that we outgrow and end up liking as an adult. There are also foods that will always have a negative connotation in our memories; the thought of it touching a fraction of our tongue will have us reaching for the garbage bin to spit it out.

I was at the age where I heavily resonated with monkey see monkey do. Every task, every movement my father made, I made sure I wasn’t trailing too far behind. It even went as far as trying to eat the same foods he would eat, or at least die trying. I had finished my prolonged and dragged-out Labor Day soccer tournament that had lasted a total of 3 exhausting days. The most dreaded part was the long walk back to our car to leave the perfectly mowed fields that had the lingering smell of fresh grass. It would feel like my legs were being weighed down with bricks, but somehow all the weight was being lifted by the first-place medal that hung around my neck. I wanted to feel nothing but accomplishment and excitement, but my stomach was demanding for its first real meal of the day.

We walk into one of those Mexican restaurants that have the really loud music where you have to almost yell at your waiter when ordering, and where they bring out your chicken fajitas in a sizzling hot molcajete. We were seated, me next to my dad of course, and I didn’t even need to look at the menu. A chicken quesadilla with a side of sour cream was my usual comfort food when eating at a restaurant. My dad orders a dish too intricate for my developing tastebuds, and requests oysters as an appetizer.

Watching my dad prepare his oysters with some lemon juice, Salsa Valentina and some salt, my mouth begins to fill with drool from the thought of the sourness gushing in my mouth. I was intrigued by these shells filled with what seemed a firm piece of goo with some clear type of juice. Hesitant, my dad turns to me and asks if I would like to try one. I swallow what’s left of the drool in my mouth before saying yes to what would be the most horrendous experience I have ever encountered with food. He hands me an oyster and explains that the trick is to get it all down in one go. I am filled with a sense of excitement that I am about to try something that will give me an inch towards what seems a lifetime of respect and maturity at the table.

It is time. My dad is focused on me. I tilt my head back, open wide and feel as the large ball of what seems like mucus slowly slides into the back of my throat. There is also the mystery clear liquid that tastes like dirty bath water that has been sitting in the tub for a couple days with a crap load of salt. I’ve felt this before. The feeling of defeat. Losing to a food and not being able to keep it down is something I considered to be embarrassing. To save myself, I tried to swallow the salty firm egg yolk that now filled my mouth. Almost like second nature, my hand reaches for a napkin and desperately spits out the oyster. My mouth begins to give a warning of salivation, and my body begins to reject the umami nature of the oyster.

With no desire for redemption, I have not willingly tried another oyster. The thought of accepting defeat to a harmless sea creature sends a feeling down my gut that immediately takes me back to the Mexican restaurant. Maybe as my taste buds keep on altering, I will grow a fondness for the briny egg yolk I once had.


Vanessa Contreras: “I am a soon to be graduate from the Culinary Institute of America. I am from Dallas, TX. I have recently grown into liking writing, especially about childhood memories. I grew up using a lot of humor in my daily life and I feel like it is able to come through in my writing.”