Clean Eater, Messy Eater

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I don’t know what it is about me, but no matter where I go or what I eat, I always seem to leave a mess. I know dozens of people who go out to lunch with me who leave behind a perfectly clean table, while it looks as though I was trying to make a sixth-grade science experiment out of my food. No matter how many people are at the table, you can always tell where I was sitting by the trail of . . . soy sauce/bbq sauce/salsa/fill in the blank leading off the edge of the table.

I like to think that as a messy eater, I simply enjoy food more than the rest. It’s not that clean eaters don’t enjoy eating, I just think they must have their senses tied up in more than eating to keep so clean. And eating is a full-sensory activity: from sight to smell to taste, you need to take it all in to really enjoy it.

OK, I guess it’s not necessary to hear your food.

(Can you even hear food?)

But touching it! That’s important! The texture of food can make all the difference in the experience. Just think of anyone you know who enjoys the taste of a food but has an aversion to the texture. Whether it’s touching it in your hands or the feel of it on your tongue, touch is just as important as any other sense when eating. And how can you possibly experience 4 out 5 of your senses as you eat when you’re paying even a sliver of attention to staying clean?

Look, I’m not out to make a mess for waiters and waitresses. And I’m not trying to hate on clean eaters. I used to even wish I could be like them. But now, I don’t think I would trade being a messy eater for a clean eater any day. When I get up from a table, you can see that I enjoyed my meal to the fullest.

You can touch my mess, you can smell the lingering scent of delicious dishes that didn’t quite reach my mouth once were there. You can experience it with all the same fervor that I try to experience when eating my food.

OK, I wouldn’t recommend you taste my spills. But!

I do recommend you experience messy eating for yourself, at least once.

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