Asking No Questions: Some Food Culture Is Better Left Unexamined

It's true, I'm afraid.

We were having a spirited chat at the campus Mellow Mushroom a few weeks ago, at the regular Tuesday Texas Hold 'Em free-roll tournament frequented by me and this group of University of Tennessee lads who came up through Baylor School in Chattanooga.

I was analyzing a certain curse phrase that had been directed to the whole table, myself included. I'm pretty certain it just anatomically and literally could not apply to me, thus I could not take offense, I stated.

"Rose," my friend Cody said with a pitying shake of his head. "Sometimes you overthink things."

Well, yeah. But not always, and this is particularly true with the quirks of the Knoxville food scene. Sometimes I don't have to consider every angle, know every detail. In fact, I have a whole list of recent incidents and oddities that I have been able to let go. (Try not to notice that I am still considering that remark 16 days later.)

First, in the "probably we're better off just enjoying our food" category:

1. The crispy, just sweet enough, flat-cubed pickle relish at Cook Out: Is it a home recipe? Does it have high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient? I'd rather just love it than get disillusioned at headquarters, and the friendly drive-through workers are happy to assist me in this willful ignorance.

2. What is Worcestershire butter? Calhoun's had already divulged much about the "ale" steak melting in my mouth at my stepdaughter's rehearsal dinner. (Thanks David and Pam Carter!) It was marinated in olive oil, mustard, garlic, and Cherokee Red Ale. Questioning the topping pooling in the seared center would be tantamount to registering that I was consuming not just tender, aged sirloin, but had succumbed to the notion that butter on top was appropriate.

Then there are the "Who am I to question corporate decisions?" aspects of restaurant life I try not to consider for more than a couple of seconds:

3. Why would Burger King have a bacon sundae on their summer BBQ menu? It's even hardwood-smoked bacon, and the management at the Chapman Highway store says they're selling quite briskly. To quote George Washington, "I don't see it," and I'm not willing to invest the calories to have my mind changed, so I'm just casting this worry to the winds. Though I have not been able to dismiss my corollary thought, "What would happen if one ordered the bacon sundae without the bacon?" Because, you know, it's their only kind of sundae that involves both chocolate fudge and caramel.

4. Does the 50-cent surcharge on debit charges below a certain amount affect business at the drive-in Fazzoli's? This just does not strike me as the type of place where frivolous daily debit charges occur—they don't serve coffee, or biscuits, or bacon sundaes, so it's kind of odd that they'd be the Knoxville quick-food place to instigate that policy.

5. Why on Earth would any business name itself Sergeant Pepperoni's, as has happened in Bearden—to a place with Fat Tire and Yazoo Dos Perros on tap, no less? I willfully chose to set that question aside and concentrate on the way the cheese dribbles over the sides of the pies and kind of bakes into the crust.

And one more. Those same students go to the Monday Downtown Grill & Brewery Hold 'Em game, and I decided to bring one friend some homegrown Carolina Gold tomatoes and basil for Caprese salad like I'd seen him enjoying at Mellow Mushroom. As these things go, I ended up leaving the goods in a bag swinging from his rear-view mirror, and texting him to say where I'd left the tomatoes. Now, I got a return text—the next morning. I'm still wondering if I put them on the wrong car, but I'm willing to let this go. I figure if I did, there's an owner of a white SUV who's a lot more puzzled than I am.