Do you believe tarragon, pickle relish and tuna salad can make a difference in someone’s life? They can, and they did for me.
At my ninth grade commencement from Placerita Junior High, I gave a speech that began, “Veni, Vedi, Vici.” I then co-opted the phrase to mean, “We came, we saw, we conquered.” I added the Latin because I thought it sounded smart. And back then, I also believed surviving junior high was the equivalent of conquering the world.
After the ceremony, my mom took me to a small cafe in “The Valley” for a special lunch. And being fourteen, I ordered something familiar, dependable. Tuna salad. With four+ kids at home, we made the mixture quite a bit and we always followed the same recipe.
- Canned tuna (with salt)
– Lots of mayo
– Lots of pickle relish, until the goop morphs into mayo-relish.
– Slather more mayo on the inside of squishy bread and then spread the tuna in a thin layer.
Image my shock when the sandwich I’d ordered for lunch was actually different! Served in a croissant, the salad had absolutely no pickle relish and just enough mayo to coat the fish and the roll, topped with slices of tomato. My tastebuds could actually pick out the buttery, chewiness of the croissant and I tasted a spice I didn’t recognize.
It really got me thinking. I’d always been a literal kid, did what I was asked, believed what I was told. But if tuna salad could be different, what else? Realistically, I probably thought something more like, Holy Partridge Family! Have we been making tuna salad wrong all this time? Are me and my family even less cool than I imagined? But you get the gist.
And the realization did register. I remember the moment. It helped me eventually understand that things which I’d assumed were set-in-stone might actually be open to change.
That would’ve been enough aha’s for one lunch, but I also told my mom how I wished I knew the name of the mystery spice. I had no expectation that I’d have an answer to my question. This was the chef’s secret recipe, after all.
And then my mom did something that surprised me. She suggested I simply ask the waitress to ask the chef. He might tell me or he might not. And when the waitress reported the spice was tarragon, I saw that little ol’ me could speak up – outside of the world of home and school – as well as ask questions and expect to have them answered. Had I been told this all along and only just understood? Or maybe Mom waited to share this useful secret until my passage into high school? I don’t know. And I probably never will.
Okay, tarragon is technically the only spice in this story, but when I chose to consider pickle relish a spice, it gave me a better title for my blog. And that’s part of what I learned that day. Not only could things be changed, but I personally could drive that change and maybe use it to my advantage. And if that doesn’t give a kid going into tenth grade a little self-esteem, I ask you, what would?