When Things are Not As You Think

It was funny. My brother’s roommate was recounting the history of his infatuation with bird watching and the story line took a wicked plot twist. It started off innocently enough as a curiosity and reason for exploring the parks near Madison where he had just moved for graduate school. He enjoyed being in nature and it got him out of the house on the weekends. But, soon enough it had turned into something else. The world of bird watching, so I was learning, was not just about trying to spot some pretty flying creatures. There is this competitive, statistics keeping side to it where people log which birds they’ve seen and where and what birds they have yet to see. He described how his hobby at one point had turned into an obsession of chasing bird sightings and feeling angry and disappointed if he missed out on birds he could have seen during his working hours. It consumed him. Luckily, he realized that his hobby had turned into something unhealthy and reined himself in back to the point of enjoyment. I had no idea bird watching could be stressful.

Another funny thing is the expectation of food tasting like it smells. For example, the movie theater popcorn; the taste disappoints every time. It smells like buttery, salty heaven and then tastes like stale shoelaces. I swear it does. It is completely underwhelming. Then, there are other foods that smell amazing and taste closer to amazing. The last two nights we have had vegetables roasting in the oven. I was not sure of what type, but my nose told me that something was going on and I knew that browning and crisping were most likely happening. In case you are interested, and I am, there is a chemical change that food undergoes when it is browning called the Maillard reaction. That is the essence of what makes it so good and your nose just gives you a preview. Okay, so my point with this story is that, for the life of me I could not tell what vegetables were roasting on these two occasions. All I could smell was caramelized goodness. The vegetables were delicious by the way. So, I guess the moral of the story is that eating vegetables results in more happy endings than movie theater popcorn.

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