I will not be running off with Anthony Bourdain just in case we really are what we eat. That dude chows down on anything. He reminds me of my dog Chunk. This week Chunk has eaten a roll of paper towels, two crafts projects, sugar dots, a bike helmet, three types of garbage and something that caused me to have to bathe her within an hour of ingestion.
That's fine for a puppy but a dude is supposed to be kissable. Blech.
I was a picky eater as a child. One of those mac & cheese, hot dogs, french fry, pizza types. I did love fruit of every variety and freshly steamed blue crabs, but otherwise I was hopeless. I can remember when I started eating pork chops (14), when I tried beef stroganoff (16 - a boyfriend was involved), and my first baked potato was at age 22.
The greatest cure for picky eating? Poverty. I was a poor college student who became a poor Army wife who became a poor grad student and early in that process I began to try all kinds of food. There was an almost immediate snowball effect. Suddenly it was raw oysters, thai food, extra spicy enchiladas, tofu... if I could eat it for free I would give it a try.
Kharma is a bitch, however. A very reliable bitch. I'm getting it in the teeth right now with a beautiful, bright, loving daughter who thinks that pizza is a bit too exotic. As if that weren't fun enough, she has the family history of severe hypoglycemia. In case you don't have a medical degree - it is hard to control severe hypogycemia on a diet of grilled cheese and cheerios.
I read a great Parenting magazine article about manners recently. In the top 10 examples of how to behave as a child was: "No one cares what you dislike. Keep it to yourself." Amen, sweet Jesus.
As a former picky eater and a person who tries not to throw stones lest they ricochet off a wall and break my nose, I have been thinking through my own still powerful lists of things I do not want to eat and why. I have been sharing this with my lovely child in an effort to give her a sense that she is not pathologically picky.
The Stuff That Mama Won't Eat:
* Brains, innards, sweet meats, guts, general internal nastiness, and body parts that dangle.
* Oysters out of season. I read a book that said that immune compromised folks like myself can eat raw oysters if they are fresh and in season. In the summer months the bacteria are more lively and dangerous and the oysters are sometimes full of... well, let's just say if it were on a bull it would be in a dangling sack. That's an over-generalization of the oyster mating process but I still ain't eating it.
* Blood. Come on now. My people did not leave the tobacco farms so I could eat blood. In fact, I do believe their wish for me would be cornbread, corn on the cob, corn salad, fresh melons, green beans, biscuits, country ham, baked ham, pork rinds, pork chops, bacon, and bacon grease. God bless their sweet departed souls.
* Any general crap that has been soaking in booze. Worms are for catching fish and shrivelling up on a hot sidewalk. Moonshine soaked strawberries look like things that dangle. Oh wait -there's an exception to this. I will munch on all kinds of greenery that swims around in a spicy bloody mary and citrus sloshing in some sangria. Otherwise it looks like something from Dr. Frankenstein's lab and I am not touching it.
* Stuff you gotta get the poison or bugs out of before you eat it. I read a recipe in my Buddhist magazine that was for nettle soup. The sheer amount of equipment the cook has to wear to throw those weeds in a pot was daunting. In spite of the need for body armor I was still with her until these instructions, "Sort your nettles, gently freeing any insects whom you may have just displaced." Not just no, sister, but hell no.
* Mashed potatoes. Everybody has some perfectly normal thing that they just do not like. For me it is mashed potatoes. And no, I do not want to hear about how Aunt Loozie makes 'em with garlic. And no, I do not want your special gravy. And no, I do not believe that I would like them if... I do not like them, Sam I Am, and you can rhyme your squirrelly little ass off. I am still not eating them.
So there you have it. My kid will be eating all kinds of stuff if this recession does not clear up.
I'm right queer when it comes to mashed potatoes.
And Bourdain doesn't get to suck face with me.
His loss because if we are what we eat I am like all great Southern food: a little bit o' sweet, a little bit o' salty, a stick a' butter, and a dollop a' bacon grease.