I entered Project Gastronome with excitement, but a thought entered my head as I sat down on the first night, in front of my dish of pickled pigs feet: "I am about to make myself into a sideshow geek." I'm already a professional geek, in that I work with computers, but this time I mean geek in the old school sense, the guy at the carnival who eats weird stuff to horrify spectators.
As proof that life's best moments are the serendipitous ones, though, something else happened on that first night that transformed the whole scope of the project. Blake, who was already in bed, was curious who I was talking to (since Courtney was at work) and came out to investigate. Although he wasn't in every installment after that, the die had definitely been cast. This became our project instead of just my project. He would ask me every night what we were going to eat, and whether he could join me. He would ask if he could do that night's introduction. As soon as each night's recording was finished, he'd want to watch it on the camera's tiny screen, and would give me notes on how we could improve the performance the next night.
Even Ava and Jack got in on it to some extent, which made some evenings more difficult to record but much, much more fun to watch. Do you know one of the things that I got the most comments about this month? On habanero night, when I was staggering off camera with my mouth on fire, and Blake stopped me so that Ava could have time to eat her cookie on camera.
Since my kids became such a part of this project, here's what I hope they took from it - trying new things is fun, and you're never too old or too young to do it. Sure, sometimes it means you're going to barf up a century egg, but sometimes it means that you'll also be pleasantly surprised by the yumminess of jellyfish. And above all, it's a thing that you can do with people who are special to you, and you can build memories together.
But for your childrens' sake, please promise me you will never feed them century eggs.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everybody who made this so much fun! As always, your comments, calls, emails, and conversations were one of the best parts of doing this project. Project Gastronome even opened up a whole new chain of conversations with my Uncle Jim, who is an accomplished backyard chef, and who grills the world's meanest steak.
There really is no better way to bring this project to a close than to let Blake, our young master of ceremonies (or Young MC, if you will), do the honors...