Photo by Richard Bryant

I love to eat. When I die, I want the afterlife to include homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, Neese’s sausage, fresh eggs, and hot sauce. I will know I’ve gone to Hell if that’s not waiting for me on the eternal buffet bar. Good food is essential to me. If I’m going to eat, whether at home or in a restaurant, I want to enjoy the experience. Who doesn’t? I choose my covered dish dinners from the church and the culinary reputations of their United Methodist women’s group. Why bother to go if you know they use inferior green beans and generic French onion soup mix for their casseroles?

So, how do I describe my culinary experiences? Over many years and countless church suppers, I have developed a complex system of responses to rate meals and religious dining encounters. Granted, I’m not a professional food critic. I’m a sanctified redneck with an overpriced education and refined tastes. With that in mind, here’s my scale of rating covered dish meals.

  1. Not too bad: (translation: I’ve died and gone to heaven.)
  2. That was pretty good. (translation: Baby, you’ve outdone yourself.)
  3. I liked it. (translation: It was almost as good as my grandmother’s.)
  4. I might have a bit more. (translation: I could survive on this through the apocalypse with salt and a little hot sauce.
  5. That was all right. (translation: thank you for making an effort to try and follow a recipe. I applaud your ability to read English.
  6. Mmmm. (translation: I don’t think I’d do that again.)
  7. I’m not sure I can put a finger on what was in that stew. (translation: let’s have les Brunswick and more stew.)
  8. You know it! (translation: please don’t make me eat anymore. I will die.)
  9. I’m full. (translation: can we stop by the gas station and buy a hot dog on the way home?)
  10. I love it. (translation: that was the worst meal I’ve ever eaten.)

–Richard Bryant