There is very little in my host mother’s cooking that I have not gotten used to, at this point I have come to enjoy almost everything she cooks. Except for liver. Before coming to Ukraine, I think I had managed to avoid liver for the majority of my life. I always knew I was not meant to eat it. I’ve never understood who thought it was still a good idea to consume animal liver after it was discovered that this is the organ that filters poisons and waste from the blood and produces bile. Seems like it should not have taken too much mental power to opt out once those discoveries were made. Despite my mother’s stories of eating liver while she was pregnant with us, my sister and I have never felt an inclination towards the stuff. So, last winter when liver first appeared in small bits swimming around a larger pot of stewed potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms, I wasn’t certain. As I ate, I sensed something was amiss with the “meat.” What was that texture? What was that strange, lingering taste? I shoved a few more potatoes in my mouth and said nothing. Mistake number one. At some point, liver appeared on the table again. This time cooked up in strips, innocently hanging out on a bed of macaroni. Again, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t about to tuck in to some straight up beef of some kind. I cut a hefty piece and popped it into my mouth to discover that texture again, that taste. A moment later, my host sister sitting next to me had done the same thing and turned to her mother and asked, “liver?” “Yes.” I quickly shoveled a pickled tomato into my mouth and regarded the rest of the “meat” on my plate. I knew this was the moment that would decide whether I would quietly gag on liver for the next two years of my life or would, in my mind, become the ungrateful host dweller who claimed not to like certain things and therefore had to be accommodated for whenever stated dislike was on the menu. I looked back down at my plate regarding the lesser of two evils, unnatural texture and strange, pungent, earthy taste or affirming stereotypes of rude, self-centered Americans…I loaded my fork with another piece and a pickle and went for it. Mistake number two. And so today, over a year later, I saw it coming. The raw “meat” sitting on the counter this afternoon. Waiting. Smirking. I smelled it as it was being cooked. Wafting. Taunting. I found myself once again at the kitchen table, staring down at a few pieces of liver on a bed of macaroni. I could feel them eyeing me, those pernicious little strips of nastiness, as I carefully ate the macaroni untouched by the liver or its juices, sizing me up. Would tonight be the night that I finally revealed my utter distaste for this organ? Come clean? Stop concealing my gag reflex? As I spooned a giant pickled tomato onto my plate, spread a pickled carrot and cucumber medley over everything, the liver and I both knew who had won. Until we meet again.