There are a few things that taste so awful, I’m sure God never intended them for human consumption. Included on this list are fried liver, lutefisk and Brussels sprouts. But, at the top of the list is cod liver oil.
While liver tastes like rejected leather from a shoe factory, lutefisk tastes like what it is – rotten fish – and Brussels sprouts put me in mind of battery acid, cod liver oil has a bouquet and flavor that is pure toxic waste.
We had it every morning when I was a kid. It was like Mom had a check list before sending us out the door to school: Clean clothes, washed hands and face, hair combed, homework … and cod liver oil.
My sister and I tried everything to distract her so we could squeeze over the threshold and avoid that dreaded spoonful of oil. She would fake a coughing fit, and I was a master at remembering last minute homework papers in my room.
It never worked. Sis would emerge from the bathroom, and I would clomp downstairs after retrieving the forgotten paper only to face Mom at the door, spoon in hand.
Everything I ate throughout the day after that included the lingering flavor of cod liver oil. I figured my breath smelled like dead fish too. Maybe that’s why I could never get a date for school dances.
I tried to talk Mom into delivering the oil at bedtime instead of in the morning. That way I would at least have eight hours for the taste to dissipate. I guess Mom realized her evening tasks might cause her to forget the cod liver oil.
“Mornings,” she said. “Get you off to a good start.” Mornings it was all through grade school and most of high school.
I did escape the routine somewhat during my senior year by lying about it.
“Did you take your cod liver oil?” from the dining room as I was exiting the door.
“Mrph,” I would answer, not exactly saying either I did or I didn’t. “Mrph!”
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. I developed arthritis in my shoulders, and it got so bad I had trouble sleeping. Pain relievers helped, but when my wife searched the Internet she found a proven remedy: cod liver oil.
The unvarnished truth: cod liver oil relieves my arthritis pain. So, decades later I find that I have come full circle.
I still hate it. Faithfully, every day.