Safe to Explore

Sometimes, I feel like I have to blog right after eating. Not to brag that I did or anything… Just to try to make sense of it all. I’ve always hated food, always been confused by other peoples’ affinity for it, always worried simultaneously about being different and the same.

At the beginning of 2nd grade, we filled out these little “About Me” posters with things like our pets, siblings, favorite books and food. Every kid in the class wrote pizza… Except me. I wrote spinach. Our teacher hung them up around the room and left them for the whole year. To this day I could still walk you to the cabinet where my poster hung. I’ll never forget, because every time a parent or visitor came in, they’d walk across that back wall reading our little kid scrawl. They’d smile as they read, each poster lead to the next pizza, pizza, pizza, each poster leading them closer the mine, above the water fountain. Four posters left, three posters left, two, I’d slink as low as possible into my desk, heart racing, one poster left, I’d hold my breath and wait. Zero posters left, I’d hear the laughing, and knew they’d reached mine. Next year, I promised myself, next year, I’ll just write “pizza”.

Twenty years later, I still write “pizza” on those things. I still prefer spinach. I still hate pizza.

I think my parents used to tell me “you don’t like this.” If they didn’t want to share something that they were eating. I have long lists of things I’m still unwilling to try, because I have distinct memories of my parents saying “you don’t like this. Here, have a piece of cheese.”

As I got older, it became inconvenient to have an 8, 10, 12 year old who only are cheese. Miss B has been my friend since we were babies. My dad would always say “why won’t you try xxx. Miss B eats it. Miss B will eat anything! Even sushi and coffee! Don’t you want to be more like her?” Um, no. Not really. I just want cheese.

Spinach, cheese, citrus, brown rice, peanut butter and candy… That’s pretty much how I got by. I learned to eat fake meats and ice cream while working at summer camp when I was 20… Until I got banned from the dining hall for lining up my Cheerios, separating the Lucky from my Charms, and sorting my Fruit Loops instead of eating them.

Now, I’m all grown up. I’m independent. There’s no one left telling me how or what to eat, no one deciding for me “you don’t like this”, no one is making fun of me for loving spinach any more. It’s safe to try things. ANY things! And I’m soooo curious! Terrified too. I don’t want to do it wrong.

This morning I put veggies and spicy salsa on something that most folks prefer with syrup and sugar. Breaking the pancake rules was nerve wracking, but when I posted a picture on my Facebook, ELEVEN people said I should open a vegetarian restaurant.

And no one made fun of me.

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8 thoughts on “Safe to Explore

  1. My husband can’t eat sugar, so he always made savory pancakes… with CURRY! So your pancakes actually seem quite logical to me.

  2. I put vanilla ice-cream on fried rice when I was 2 (on a regular basis). It’s tasty.
    People just get disgusted because they’ve never tried it. Like with anything I’ve never tried too, I guess. : P

  3. People get so hung up of “should’s” and “supposed to’s”. When I told others that I was going to switch to a Paleo diet, the first thing that they asked was “What will you eat? How on Earth will you manage breakfast?” suggesting that you can’t get by in the mornings without breads and cereals.
    I’ll admit that it was a shock to my system after having been raised on a cereal breakfast and having eaten cereals practically every day for nearly 43 years. My first steak and vegetable breakfast was an effort in itself psychologically, because it just didn’t feel “normal”, and therein lies the problem.

    Instead of worrying about whether I should fit in with the expectations of others, and instead of basing my own expectations on what others might think/want/do, I decided that it was better instead for me to simple life how I want. I’m an adult, and I get to make my own decisions. I don’t need anyone else to accept them or approve of them. So now I simply do what I feel like doing, and I play with herbs and spices, trying out new combinations. Worst that can happen is I make my food taste “weird” to my own palate, and I might need to throw it out and start again (like I did when I found myself too generous with the hot spices one day).

    If I like it, I’ll eat it. No harm done to anyone else except perhaps their own fragile egos. 🙂

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