Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Food And No Drink

The PopCulteer
January 13, 2023

I have been a professional writer for over three decades, but I don’t think I could ever write a food column or blog.

I read plenty of food articles and I’ve been hired as a marketing consultant by more than a few restaurants and food packagers, but even though I obviously enjoy food (perhaps a bit too much), I have one obstacle that would prevent me from writing with any real authority.

I don’t drink. I don’t drink anything with alcohol…but I also don’t drink coffee, and I could probably count the number of times I’ve drank tea on one hand.

It’s not a principled stand or anything. I just can’t stand the taste. That, combined with the odd quirk that I apparently can’t get drunk, makes it easy to pass up anything with alcohol. I could theoretically drink and drink and drink without ever seeming inebriated…until I die from alcohol poisoning.

So I don’t risk it. In my sixty years on this planet I have never been drunk. Hearing people describe it, I don’t really think I’m missing anything.

However, because of that particular blind spot, along with a raft of potential bad reactions to certain foods and others that I simply can’t stand (mayonnaise, cole slaw, I’m looking at you), I don’t think I’d be able to cover the full depth of gastronomic offerings available around here. This is no secret. I’ve written about it here before, but it still holds true: if you don’t drink, your opinions about food are considered null and void.

What brought this to the forefront of my mind is the recent leak of some of the menu items that will be offered during Charleston’s restaurant week. As usual, I’m hard pressed to find anything listed that I could, or would eat. I certainly don’t give a crap about any beer or wine they might be pairing with their meals.

I have some allergies, perhaps more than the average person. Mushrooms could kill me. Strawberries can throw me into anaphylactic shock. Berries in general don’t sit well with me.

On top of that, avacodo, and anything made from it, makes my Myasthenia Gravis meds just stop working. That’s no fun.

And then there’s the food I just don’t like: I don’t eat pork (even bacon); Mayonnaise, to me, is the most disgusting substance on Earth; The mere sight of white gravy makes me want to projectile vomit; I refuse to accept the premise that cole slaw is actually any kind of food.

And I guess you can add alcoholic beverages to that list.

And to be honest, while I’ll eat an occasional hamburger…steak bores me. I’ve never considered it as a favorite. The fact that I like it well done, and that apparently makes me a monster in the eyes of some people, makes it even less appealing to me. On those occasions when Mel wants to eat at a steakhouse, I get the chicken. (and to be honest, we still aren’t comfortable eating in restaurants anyway, due to the ongoing pandemic)

So, I don’t eat pork, I’m not crazy about beef, some foods could kill me while others make me sick, and I have yet to taste an alcoholic beverage that doesn’t taste like cough medicine, mouthwash or dishwater.

That’s why it’s hard for me to muster any enthusiam when I hear that Charleston is getting another half-dozen breweries and a distillery this week. How about they reopen Blossom Dairy and operate it as a soda fountain for a change?  At the moment we’re supposed to be in “Dry January,” which for me lasts 12 months a year. I know I’m not alone here.

Recently, Nation’s Restaurant News wrote about a Gallup poll that said 60% of American adults say they drink alcoholic beverages. That covers everybody from the raging alcholic to the person who has a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve.

That means that 40% of the adults in this country NEVER drink. Like me. Our culture spends so much time glorifying and normalizing drinking and catering to those folks who imbibe that they tend to ignore the sizable chunk of us who don’t.

And I have to admit, sometiimes I do feel a little left out when friends start raving enthusiastically about a new IPA or stout…and all I can do is talk about Quisp Cereal or new comic books.

Seriously, if it weren’t for Google I still wouldn’t know what an “IPA” is.

It turns out that I’m not alone. The context in which NRN cited those Gallup numbers (which, by the way, represents the lowest reported percentage of Americans who drink in over a decade) was in an article about how restaurants are scrambling to come up with craft sodas and non-alcoholic cocktails (AKA “mocktails”) so they can attract the growing number of restaurant-goers who don’t drink, but don’t want to be left out of the goofy-exotic-drink part of the dining experience.

And that’s a good thing. It’d be nice to go to a new city, find a cool Tiki Bar, and not have to order a “virgin” version of a drink. When we went to Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago a few years ago, I had a Virgin Jet Pilot.

That sounds like something Buddy Cole would say.

It’d be cool if we could get some new dining experience in Charleston that wasn’t based on alcohol. With 40% of the country being non-drinkers, you have to think that, maybe, they could come up with something for us.

Of course, given the actions of our State Legislature in the last three days, I think I can understand why so many people do drink.

That’s this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular weekend features, including an RFC Flashback to a video episode that has not been featured in this blog for over sixteen years.

1 Comment

  1. Gregory Stitz

    Great article!

    I honestly can’t stand the taste of beer, except Guinness in Dublin (so my consumption is VERY limited).

Leave a Reply

© 2024 PopCult

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑