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2008 EssayJolt Scholarship Runner-Up

Michael Nee, Atlantic City High School

As an 18 year old "growing boy," as my mom likes to call me, I have probably had thousands of different meals in my lifetime. My mom has home cooked many of them, I've ordered out, I've ate over at my friends' houses, and I have just munched on anything I could find in the pantry. When I think back on all of these meals, there is only one that distinctly sticks out in my mind. This meal was so memorable that I can recall the details perfectly.

It was a cold October night. I was a fragile eight years of age. My brother, Sean, and I were settling in for the night and getting ready for dinner. Tonight, however, our mom was away and did not leave any "microwave ready" meals for my step-dad, Bud, to heat up for supper. So, he decided that he would try his hand at cooking sweet potatoes.

Bud subsequently opened a box of Instant Sweet Potato Powder. Next, Bud mixed in the only required ingredient, water, while he preheated the oven to 350°F. After placing the reddish-brown goop into a Pyrex dish and popping it into the oven for 30 minutes, my life would change forever.

Sean and I had been watching TV while the Frankenstein spawned sweet potato mix was in the oven. As the aroma seeped out of the kitchen and trespassed into our nostrils, we smelt the scent of pure wickedness and everything wrong in the world. At the time of this devastating smell I sprinted upstairs and cowered under my covers. However, I knew that the time would come that I would have to return downstairs and face my fate.

I was soon called down from my protective blanket fortress by Bud. With solemn and sober looks on our faces, Sean and I sidled down the stairs and slumped into the chairs in which we would be facing our demons for the night. As Bud slopped five giant scoops onto my plate, I prayed to myself silently. I picked up my fork with dread in my eyes and took the first bite.

When the mush struck my palette I began to cry. This was by far the worst tasting concoction that the world has ever seen. If hell had a flavor it would taste like Bud's sweet potatoes. I sat there in defiance for the rest of the night firmly refusing Bud's orders to finish the mess that he himself did not eat. After 11:00 pm Bud decided that he could not force feed me this travesty of a meal.

Free from the sweet potato's clutches, I went up to my room and cried myself to sleep. At this point my memory becomes fuzzy, but I believe that I dreamt of a world where vegetables were not allowed to sold in a powdered form. To this day I have never been able to eat the sweet potato. Thus, I have been changed forever, clearly, by my most memorable meal.