Uncial Press

The Uncial Letter

January 2022

Jaye Watson Mulls Memorable Munchies…

Bored with Solitaire, all New Year's partying cancelled because of Covid and a wretched weather forecast, I was looking for something to do that didn't involve writing a short piece for The Uncial Letter. So I began browsing recipe websites, one of my favorite time-wasters. Right off the bat I found a recipe that included an ingredient I shudder at even the mention of. Aha! A topic.

I Googled "nasty tasting foods" and ended up with a really long list of interesting sites. I won't list all the URLs; they are easy to find, but I recommend that you do a similar search. You'll find it an interesting way to spend a couple of hours. But for example…

There's a slideshow of disgusting foods, that I recommend you avoid unless you have a strong stomach. And then there's the list (that I don't entirely agree with) of foods that look good but taste awful. What's not to like about edible flowers, or licorice? But I admit that one nibble of a durian fruit was enough to last me a lifetime.

Okay, that's enough examples of really yucky foods. But what about the ones that are commonly disliked? Strained beets? My children, every one of them, rejected--a couple violently--their first taste, although they learned to like them as they matured. Brussels sprouts? Oh, yes. They show up on most of the lists of hated foods I looked at. My favorite cheese is blue (bleu?), yet it's common on those hated foods lists. I intensely disliked tomatoes and bacon when I was a child, but grew to love them both as I matured. Everyone said I was crazy. Bacon? Everyone likes bacon.

One of the more interesting sites I came across in my search for yucky food was the list of weirdest food in each state (of the U.S.). Now I'm usually game to try something new, but I admit that I've never felt a burning need to taste a Rocky Mountain Oyster, possum pie, scorpion lollipops or nutria prepared any possible way. On the other hand, I have nibbled on a honey-dipped cricket (crunchy and sweet), spread a cracker with rattlesnake pâté (no it did not taste like chicken), and chewed and swallowed a couple of boiled peanuts (probably better with salt). But lest some of you take umbrage at my implied insults to your local cuisine, I grew up in a state that likes ice cream potatoes (yum!) and live in one where gooseneck barnacles are apparently enjoyed (but I've never tried one).

Being an adventurous sort, I've compiled my own list of new foods I'd like to try, although it's not likely I'll get to Detroit anytime soon to enjoy the local Coney Dog, or to Virginia for peanut soup. But they are on my to-taste list. I can, however, get sushirrito right here in Portland, and pasties, and even lutefisk. Oh, wait. I've tried that, and really do not want to do so again. And I've already tried goeduck, Jell-O salad, and rockchuck stew (this one's not on the weird food list, but definitely on my never-eat-again list).

Oh, that food that sets me to shuddering? Almonds. I can't stand their smell or their taste. Well, I will eat foods containing them, but only if they aren't the dominant flavor or ingredient. No chocolate-covered almonds for me; I won't even lick the chocolate off. Why? Well, they're poison…sorta…depending on which tree they came from. If you're curious about that, check this NPR web page.

And my dislike of almonds, my friends, is what led me to begin writing about Emaline Banister, biochemist, and woman who knew exactly what she was doing when she opened that bottle labeled "almond extract."


Jaye Watson wrote five Emaline Banister mysteries, each short enough to polish off in an evening. We won't spoil the surprises by telling you that poison plays a strong roll in every one. The who, the how, and the why will keep you guessing though, starting with Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? Death darkens an otherwise bright season in God Rest Ye, Mary; and both methods and motive in That Doggy in the Window prove a real challenge to Emaline. Life gets complicated when her lab is taken over by new owners, her best friend runs amok, and she needs Black Coffee to settle her nerves when she receives an invitation to visit a brothel. Once the excitement is over, she decides to clean out the attic, and discovers a secret that would have been better left alone in What Now My Love… 

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? cover  God Rest Ye, Mary cover  That Doggy in the Window cover

Black Coffee cover  What Now My Love... cover

Emaline's adventures are for sale at your favorite ebookseller, so why not download one tonight?

We're cautiously welcoming in a New Year, full of hope for brighter times to come. And we are wishing you and yours good fortune, good health, good times, and good reading in 2022.

Star & Jude