I remember it dripped, oozing brown goo down the sides of the plate, dropping sticky blobs on the tablecloth. The smell was horrendous, like someone had decided basting a dead bird and throwing it on a table was a good idea. I had to eat it. It was inevitable.
I poked it with my fork, praying it was actually dead. Part of me was convinced that it was going to rear up and swallow my fork in its blubber. Lucky for me it decided to just jiggle a little and settle back down.
My grandmother smiled as she told me that Grandfather had made this. It was his special stuffing. It looked more like muddy water with the consistency of the slime you make in middle school science class. I smiled at her and nodded, sliding a piece of the mud onto my fork. She turned back to talk to the others and I dropped the goo back on my plate. I thought frantically about how I could get rid of it without my grandparents noticing. I scanned the room and spotted the dog slinking in a corner. Our eyes met and he trotted over, sliding under my legs at the table. I took another forkful of stuffing and turned it sideways, allowing the food to sidle to the floor. I pretended to shift the napkin in my lap and looked down at Rover. He hadn’t touched the stuffing. He looked up at me with hopeful eyes and I knew I was doomed.
“May I please be excused?” I asked politely. I hoped that by pretending I was full I could avoid the goo.
“We’re still visiting honey, and besides, you haven’t touched your stuffing.” My mom smiled at me and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere until my plate was cleared.
I sighed and then took a deep breath. I could do this. It was just muddy water slime. No one at the table had died. Yet.
I decided to eat it like I was taking off a Band-Aid. That would be the best attack strategy. I scooped a big forkful of stuffing and gulped it down, swallowing my pride in the process.
It tasted worse than it looked if that could be believed. Pieces of what I could only assume was burnt bread and spices forced their way down my throat in something akin to watered down mud. It was all I could do to keep from gagging. I looked at my grandfather and smiled, hoping that was all the encouragement he needed for his dish. His sweet smile back indicated it was. As much as I didn’t like the stuffing, I loved my grandfather, and so, I closed my eyes and devoured the rest of the stuffing on my plate.
Dinner ended shortly after and my stomach was rolling from the stuffing. “Honey you ate your entire plate! I’m so proud of you!” My mom cooed. I nodded weakly. My grandmother brought in two pies, both, she explained, were made by my wonderful grandfather.
I almost threw up.