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Brussel sprouts. Zucchini. Squash. Tofu. Spinach. Asparagus.

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post #2
bio: j. wray

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that week

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When I was little, the list of foods I would not eat was a never-ending source of conflict between my parents and I. I liked bagels and cream cheese, chocolate and pizza and that was pretty much it. But my parents, heads of the "Clean Plate Club," insisted I eat the hated vegetables before I could leave the table. It was then that I developed what (I thought was) a clever technique. I'd douse the limp vegetables with ranch salad dressing, gingerly put them in my mouth and commence chewing. When my parents' attention appeared to be deflected, I would raise my napkin and quickly spit out the offending food. After dinner, I would stride to the nearest bathroom and -- flush -- the food was gone.

When I became a vegetarian at age 12, out went the meat, but I didn't find myself eating any more veggies.

Over the years, I slowly introduced more foods to my diet. Raw spinach, I discovered, was tasty compared to the limp frozen version Mom had served.
Tofu wasn't so bad -- if it was stir-fried with Chinese food, instead of plain, like Dad liked it.

But asparagus remained on my Do Not Eat list.

That is, until my 25th birthday.

I was staying with my boyfriend at a cabin in southeastern Ohio. Food was provided, and the owner even told me I could tell him what not to cook.No brussels sprouts, I said. No okra, no squash and no zucchini, I told him.But I forgot to say no asparagus, and there it was sitting on my plate. Out of politeness, I decided to take a bite, and discovered, to my shock, it was delicious.

So, last night I decided to try a recipe I found in the paper -- roast asparagus with breadcrumbs. It was a quick dish, only taking 12 minutes, which would leave me with more than enough time to make it to the city council meeting I had to cover for work.

I cooked, ate up, grabbed a water bottle and left.

I made a pit stop in the city hall bathroom before the meeting began. As I peed, I smelled something gassy, something fetid, something undeniably bad. I listened for the unmistakable sound of someone in an adjoining stall dropping a load, but I was the only one in there. And then I realized -- the smell was me.

According to, the unmistakable eau d'asparagus pee is a result of the digestive tract breaking down a sulfur compound called mercaptan, found in asparagus and also found in rotten eggs, onions, garlic and in the secretions of skunks.

But not everyone smells the stench. No one quite knows if people who smell the unmistakable malodor of asparagus urine are unique in producing the smell, or detecting it. I'm not sure myself, but I'm making plans for myself. If this whole journalism thing doesn't work out, I'm considering becoming a one-woman stink-bomb factory. Any takers?
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