Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What's this Atavist guy babbling about today?

I just finished a sandwich at my desk. Made it myself. Whole wheat bread, Havarti cheese, slathered with Dijon mustard. Only a man could dream up something like that, right?

Our individual preferences when it comes to food and drink say much about ourselves. While in Panama, I like to try local dishes, or at least local variants or interpretations of things that might be available at home. I don't want my meals to be 'just like' what I am used to. If I want a McBurger, I'll wait until I get home.

I had some great meals in Panama, often sea bass prepared in various ways. At The Bistro, in Boquete, I ate one of the best filet mignon steaks I have ever tasted, anywhere. Cost: $9.95.

The evening before I left Panama City to fly back home to Canada, after not having eaten for nearly 48 hours because of a bout of something that caused my body to be somewhat hostile to food (or even the thought of it,) I had a delicious meal too. What was it? A Mr. Sub vegetarian submarine sandwich, including some extra jalapeno peppers. Comfort food.

There are foods that I won't eat. Oysters, lobster, crab, clams, octopus, eel, frog, escargot, are all on my "are you kidding!?" list. Why? I get the creeps just looking at these things. Why would I eat them?

Irrational? Perhaps, but so what?

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I will eat just about anything. Even Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli. I love the textures of fruits and vegetables almost as much as the taste. I love biting into some fruit with which I have had no prior experience, just to experience for the first time its unique flavour and texture.

It is like that with people too. I like meeting people for the first time. I have no expectations, just curiosity. I like to be pleasantly surprised, and often am. Sometimes I'm not.

Like food stuffs, people are unique. They each have their own flavour and texture when you take your first 'bite' of them. Stop blushing, please! I'm not speaking here about some deliciously decadent and intimate oral adventure. Nor am I promoting cannibalism. I'm engaging in analogy, so bear with me.

Some people are sweet and airy and fluffy and nothing else. No solidity, no substance, no satisfaction. They provide momentary diversion and not much else.

Some people are sweet to the taste, until you sink in your teeth to savour the experience, and recoil in horror to the bitterness inside. Never met one of these delightful creatures? Look me up. I'll introduce you.

Some people are a bit sour or perhaps salty on the surface, but are solid and fortifying inside. If you get past the first taste, you will ultimately be fortified and satisfied.

Some people are savoury on the surface, and have a satisfying, complementary interior. They are pleasant to be with, interesting to interact with, and make great friends or spouses or partners.

I was reminded of all of this as I spent time in Panama. I met many people there, as I usually do. My main purposes on this particular trip were to take care of the legal 'closing' of the real estate for our project and to meet with potential investors. When not occupied with these pursuits, I also met people at the hotels I stayed in, restaurants I ate in, at the bank I use, and so on. Everyone I met could reasonably be slotted into one of the categories enumerated above.

The fact that these people are in Panama, even if only momentarily in some cases, naturally has no bearing on anything. People live everywhere, not just in Panama. But people world-wide tend to have the same general characteristics.

So, what were my impressions of the people I met for the first time? Generally, positive. Some, delightful. One or two, with whom I would normally avoid contact. About average, wouldn't you think?

This all begs the question, of course, of what they might think of me. Does it matter? Do I care?

Yes and no. I am trying to teach my son that he should not live his life in a way designed solely to ensure that he is liked by his peers. He should live his life based on values: honesty, integrity, reliability, responsibility, compassion, and so on. People will judge him on what he is, and will still like him or not based on their individual prejudices. They might not like him because his hair is the wrong colour, or because he wears blue shirts, but they will tend to respect him and trust him because of his behaviour and values. That is what matters.

I try to live my life the same way. I don't care much if I am liked, although it is obviously not a bad thing. I do care that I am respected, and trusted to behave responsibly and ethically.

That's what the Atavist is babbling about today.


  1. I am very intrigued by your analogies of food and people. I, being a food lover (probably more than people lover), have often thought about food-and-people together as well, although probably in a different way. For example, what kind of bread would you be? My mother is definitely multi-grain: five different textures, and tastes, and good for you but a little rough sometimes. (With a biting, but wise, remark.)

    But I really like thinking about biting into people and seeing if they're savory, or sweet and fluffy...you've opened my mind to new comparisons.

    And, of course, what are you?

  2. I love the food analogy. I often say to myself or others.. "I'm craving a Jason-flavored day".. or some such analogy.

    Smoked Oysters in the tin, though.. wow.. you don't know what you are missing!!

    Beautiful picture. Love that blue!

  3. Bellezza: What am I? Probably closest to this one:

    "Some people are a bit sour or perhaps salty on the surface, but are solid and fortifying inside. If you get past the first taste, you will ultimately be fortified and satisfied."

    The outer layer with me is probably my reserve and shyness (really!) which hide the twinkle in my mind's eye and my generally adventurous and miscievous nature.

    BTW, I saw numerous occurences of the name Belleza (spelled a little differently than your own moniker) in Panama - on signs, advertisements, etc. I never had a camera with me at the right time to snap a photo, but I thought of you.

    Penny: That picture is of 'The Bistro' in Boquete, Panama. They have a largely expat clientel and serve delicious food. I think you would love the country and its people.

    Smoked Oysters? I'll take my zinc in pill form, thanks!

  4. Atavist, I can see that twinkle in your eye. I think it's the common bond we have of reserve on the outside (really!) but depth on the inside. (Oooh, did I just compliment myself? Sorry...so many people who meet me think I'm snobby at first, but it's only because I'm shy in the beginning. To me, it's so much easier to blog where you can just get straight to the heart of things). Thanks for thinking of me with the signs; it's interesting to think that Bellezza, Italian in origin, would be in Panama.

    By the way, I am really enjoying the pictures and posts you're putting up about a place I've never been, but you know so well.