I hated meatloaf for the first 25 years of my life. Just the thought of it made me gag. Ketchup just made it worse. Salt and pepper made it worse. Meatloaf sucked and I refused to partake.
There were those who looked at me sideways. There were those who told me was wrong. Deep down, though, even the word meatloaf churned bile in my innards.
But, you say, meatloaf can’t be all bad. Meatloaf has been around for a long time and people still eat it. Maybe it’s a bit old fashioned, but it is time tested, a great way to nourish on a budget. And besides, unless you’re a vegan, meatloaf has what you want. It’s basically a meatball casserole, and who can say no to that?
It’s true, I respond, I do like meatballs. But meatloaf is a step too far. Meatballs are a taste of goodness, but meatloaf is too restrictive. It’s a meal, not a component. I can have meatballs with rice. I can have meatballs with spaghetti. I can have meatballs with a sauce. Meatloaf is a meal unto itself. Maybe you can add a side or some vegetables to complement it and lighten it up, but once you go meatloaf, you’re pretty well stuck.
Besides, the meatloaf itself is just not appealing. You’re locked into a lump of overcooked ground meat, pooling grease and bits on the plate. You’re stuck with a chew that doesn’t quite make it to chewy and doesn’t get all the way to mealy, but sits halfway in between. You’re forced into a seasoning profile that pairs well with nothing, resulting in the rest of the plate desperately attempting to cleanse the palate of that heavy, dark slop.
I know I’m not alone. The other unmeatloafed people I’ve encountered are similarly scarred from the attempts at forcing it on them. The meatloaf oppressors are everywhere, too! The media is constantly pushing their outdated pro-meatloaf views. People are absorbed in a meatloaf false consciousness, pretending to love a downright bigoted meal. The victims of that horror food are often the most vocal proponents of their continued oppression. Meatloaf is baked into their essence. It is their identity. They have been co-opted for the continued power of meatloaf, and they are so fragile. Meatloaf fragility often turned to meatloaf rage as I peeled back at the power structures of our meatloafarchy. People don’t like their power being challenged, nor do meat based casseroles.
However, like all who stand against the oppressors, I was forced to confront my own weakness. It was a dark, dark day when I was served a cut of meatloaf at a family gathering. It looked different than what I remembered. Gone was the pool of grease. Gone were the gray strands of beef. This meatloaf tempted my unmeatloafed soul. But I was strong. I was going to beat this tiny colonizer taking the land of the native green beans and creamed corn. This will not stand!
Yet there it beckoned. It looked so soft and inviting. And, after all, how rude would it be to not at least take a bite of that which was served to me…. No! I mustn’t! My weakness cannot allow me to cave to the meatloaf hierarchy!
Just a small bite. Experience the oppression once more. Just a mote. Nobody can fault me. This is exactly what we fight against. I can’t blame myself for being a victim again. Just one bite.
As the fork floated toward my mouth, carrying that most vile payload, my mind flooded with both dread and curiosity. Myriad memories relived, a thousand compelled bites into those disquieting slabs of meat mush. But there was also a primal draw. Maybe this is how it is supposed to be. Maybe this is even natural. Maybe meatloaf is good.
Perish the thought! My weakness would not relegate me to mere unmeatloafer ally! I will not succumb to the shackles of our meatloaf centered society! With a defiant scowl and a hopefully unnoticed cringe, I plunged that damnable bite into my maw. And with a quick chew it spilled it’s detestable sensation onto my tastebuds. I had done it, I was a victim again, and through my pain I would emerge victor!
But wait, something wasn’t right. The chew. The chew was all wrong. And the flavors. Was that a hint of sage? This wasn’t heavy; this wasn’t mealy. It was light and well balanced… What sorcery is this? Is this false consciousness? Is this the final victory of my oppressors? I had to know.
Another bite was quickly shoveled in for inspection. Might this actually be good? Meatloaf can be pleasant? But so much of my life, my identity, the foundation of everything I know was rooted in the evil disgusting nature of that meatloaf menace. This couldn’t be! How can this be?
No! No! I won’t believe it! This isn’t meatloaf. This is something else. This is a meatball. But it came out of a pan. This is some sort of exotic plate with a name that is hardly pronounceable. They just call it meatloaf because of their internalized oppression. I really must find out what this really is. It is quite good.
“This is great!” a moment of weakness allowed the compliment to escape my mouth. “Can I have the recipe?” Damn it all! My weak soul caved to the meatloaf hegemony. I was a hypocrite.
A glance at the recipe book confirmed what I already knew. “Classic Meatloaf Recipe”. I was a sellout. I was, at best, going to be an unmeatloafer ally, because I actually liked meatloaf. I wasn’t going to live out my passion. At best, I’d be a Twitter meatloaf justice warrior.
Then, a wave of anger. Meatloaf wouldn’t take this away from me! It won’t gaslight my experiences. Those putrid pans served to me in my childhood. I grasped those memories with a fury. Meatloaf. Is. Evil. I will do what I must to destroy the power meatloaf has over society. This affront cannot be permitted to stand!
I recoiled in a moment of self-reflection. The anger, the rage, did it go too far? Am I such an angry, loathsome person? No. I am not wrong. Meatloaf is wrong. MEATLOAF IS WRONG! I may only be an unmeatloafer ally, but I’ll make sure that I’m the best, most vocal, most active antimeatloafer that ever existed. It doesn’t matter that I like to eat the infernal stuff. I. WILL. DESTROY. MEATLOAF.
The resoluteness of my statement resonated in my mind as I sat down with a second helping of Nanna’s meatloaf, fork scooping another devil’s bite of that dark meal. This scourge, it will be stopped. I hate meatloaf.