My mother taught me how to eat.
But it took my father, J. Earl Johnston, to teach me what to eat.And what Dad and I eat is food seasoned to the max.
"Give me food that bites back," Dad once said. And over the years he's given me a taste for meals that have some real teeth in them.
Salsa, mustard, pepper and horseradish.
Those are our four basic food groups.
I remember the day, years ago, when Dad decided to make his own horseradish sauce and stockpile it by the pint. He and Granddad got out the grinder, cleaned the horseradish roots and started shoving them through. After five minutes of grinding, my father's arm turned Crimson Club red and swelled to twice its size.
After that, it was back to Arby's and the little packets of "horsey sauce."
My Uncle Elwood, by the way, shares the "hot sauce" gene with us. Elwood makes his own salsa, arranging the bottles by temperature. There's Elwood's Everyday Salsa on the low end of the scale. On the top end you get Elwood's Scorched Earth salsa, a concoction so potent it singes the hair off full-grown Chihuahuas.
I love spiciness, but even I won't go there.
I have seen Elwood toss some of the stuff down, however.
It makes his ears ring so loud he keeps trying to answer the telephone.
In the end, of all the "piquant potions," I'd have to say Worcestershire sauce may be the Johnston condiment of choice. My wife buys several bottles at a time.
At our house, a year's supply of Worcestershire would cost about the same as a small snowmobile.
You've heard of "Blast-o-Butter" popcorn?
We do "Blast-o-Worcestershire."
In fact, if I end up on death row, I have my last meal already planned: Dad's sauteed mushrooms floating in Worcestershire.
The recipe's simple:
Top-of-the-line mushrooms, sauteed in butter, salted with seasoning salt, then drenched in Worcestershire.
Dad can make mushrooms taste like steak.
The problem is we have to buy mushrooms that are more expensive than steak to get the effect.
Still, just thinking about those things makes my mouth water (and my forehead sweat). Maybe I'll drop by and see if he's up for a mushroom feed.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.
In my life, you're easily The Man for All Seasonings.