One Fatty on “The Good Stuff”

Overheard a few days ago at a restaurant at a nearby table:

Waitress: How we doing here? Finished?

Eaters: Yes, thank you.

Waitress: MMM!  Saving room for the Good Stuff, right?

The Good Stuff.  Just from that short exchange I can bet you dollars to cents that the intended meaning here was: Desert Time Goodies!  Yet, if you tell someone in another context that they really ought to be eating the Good Stuff; it can have the entirely opposite meaning: something tasteless or “supposedly healthy”.  How entirely ambiguous and confusing is our own language when complete opposites can be inferred from the same phrase. Is it any wonder our culture is at once so enthralled with food and so repulsed by it at the same time?  We can’t even agree on what constitutes the “Good Stuff” from one moment to the next! One moment it is some decadent chocolate that you’re meant to console your love-woes with; the next it’s a fasting regimen filled with leafy greens and forced smiles.

Good Stuff: What is it to you? Is it a sugary finish to a meal out?  A crunch of some arguably more health-conscious vegetable? Or is it something else entirely?

Since I’m in a rather romantic mood right now I tend to feel that the Good Stuff is far beyond a mere measure of the moral attributes or even the subjective taste-worth of foodstuffs.

Kenny Chesney can sum it up for me in a sappy yet beautiful way:

Lyrics:

Well, me and my lady had our first big fight
So I drove around ’till I saw the neon lights
Of a corner bar, It just seemed right, So I pulled up

Not a soul around but the old barkeep
Down at the end and loooking half asleep
But he walked up and said what’ll it be?
I said the good stuff

He didn’t reach around for the whiskey
He didn’t pour me a beer
His blue eyes kinda went misty
He said you can’t find that here

‘Cause it’s the first long kiss on a second date
Momma’s all worried when you get home late
And droppin’ the ring in the spaghetti plate ’cause
your hands are shakin’ so much

And it’s the way that she looks with the rice in her hair
Eatin’ burnt supper the whole first year
And askin’ for seconds to keep her from tearin’ up
Yeah man, that’s the good stuff

He grabbed a carton of milk and he poured a glass
And I smiled and said I’ll have some of that
We sat there and talked as an hour passed like old friends

Saw a black and white picture and he caught my stare
It was a pretty girl with mufont hair
He said that’s my Bonnie, taken about a year after we wed

He said I spent five years in the bottle when the
cancer took her from me
But I’ve been sober three years now
‘Cause the one thing stronger than the whiskey

Was the sight of her holdin’ my baby girl
The way she adored that string of pearls
I gave her the day that our youngest boy Earl married
his high school love

It’s a new t-shirt sayin’ I’m a grandpa
Bein’ right there as our time got small
And holdin’ her hand when The Good Lord called her up
Yeah man, that’s the good stuff

He said when you get home she’ll start to cry
When she says I’m sorry, say so am I
And look into those eyes so deep in love
And drink it up
‘Cause that’s the good stuff
That’s the good stuff

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9 thoughts on “One Fatty on “The Good Stuff”

  1. I think for me ‘the good stuff’ in food terms is anything prepared with love and care and enthusiasm.

    Sometimes it’s the amazing gourmet foods prepared at my favorite neighborhood bistro by a woman who is an active member of the local Slow Food movement and has been a personal chef to Tim Curry. Seriously, she has done this. Her food is incredible. She uses organic vegetables, grass-fed beef, and the eggs come from the hens she raises in her own backyard. And then her skill with those gorgeous ingredients is top notch and her imagination is glorious. Hers is one of the few restaurants I go to where I order dessert, too. Why? Because it’s one of the few where I feel like I can’t make it significantly better at home.

    Then again, ‘the good stuff’ can also be a neighbor’s kid proudly showing off that first ever batch of slightly burnt slice and bake sugar cookies. It can be a perfectly cheesy slice of pizza, or that can of chicken soup that your SO opened and heated for you because you have a cold and feel miserable. It can be an elegant gourmet French dish or a bowl of mac and cheese.

    It’s about what went the creator put of themselves into the plate every bit as much as the nutritional value or the flavor. Any one of these things can make a dish ‘the good stuff’, but if you have all three on the plate, that’s the most amazingly good stuff.

    • Twistie I like the idea of calling “Good” anything made with love, care, enthusiasm (especially this last). It can be applied to so many things: food, crafts, relationships…

      For me Good Stuff can be the smell and taste of chocolate chip cookies with the chocolate still warm, the aroma of a cup of strong coffee brewing (but likely not the taste unless I’m willing to pay the digestion consequences), the bite of a perfectly crisp bit of clementine… or the sight of my husband grinning at me after telling a bad pun, the sound of my mom’s voice on the phone when I need an ear to listen… so many Good Stuffs 🙂

  2. This is really hard to answer, food-wise. There is so much Good Stuff. About 80% of the stuff my roommate makes (she’s a fabulous cook). Certain restaurants that I adore. Snobby chocolate. Tea that I have time to sit down and enjoy. Crisp apples. I have a meatloaf in the oven right now, and that’s probably going to be some good stuff.

    I’m also likely to apply the term to yarn. I went to my knit group tonight, which is at an indy dyer’s shop, and the proprietor has recently dyed some cashmere/silk blend. She had it artfully displayed to tempt all of us. It’s sooo soft and decadent. That’s the Good Stuff for sure. 🙂

  3. Oh dear… that’s a big question. You know, in my head «good stuff» still sounds like «leafy greens, whole grain pasta, light cottage cheese» (I hate’em all).

    Speaking of dessert, or marvelous and warm-hearted moments/gifts/feelings,I will use «treats», «treating myself» or some other french expression that doesn’t translate well. (such as «me faire plaisir» which can’t be translated in pleasuring myself because it sounds more like playing with myself than allowing myself to things that make me feel good HAHAHAH ).

    But, stuff like in Chesney’s song and stuff like you said (knitting, my lover’s smile, etc) are really precious to me, things I deeply treasure.

    My «good stuffs» in the positive meaning is this: any artsy / crafty project done with my lover. I love the way we work together, the deep concentration we get in, the way we laugh all the time because of all our inside jokes.

    Going to see my mom, and she baked my favorite meal. Sipping on good wine with her and chatting about life. Sometimes thinking that she was so right about something but I’d never tell her. (hahhahah) Being so proud of her for being strong and standing like a rock in the middle of very harsh storms.

    Playing Nintendo with my brother… taking care of my bourke’s parakeet (petting it, signing and whistling songs to it, sometimes telling all my worries…)

    The list can be long, but thanks for making me take the time to be grateful for all this. 🙂

  4. The “good stuff” is what I already want to have, only better than usual, or expected. Not just cheese, but one which for a second engulf the universe in a revelation of cheesiness. Not just green cabbage, but that perfect green cabbage at just the right point of solid and soft and spicy with the perfect piece of sausage, hot and juicy and with just the right hint of garlic. Chocolate so chocolaty that it lifts me off the chair into chocolate heaven.

    … I’m going to cook something now.

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