My people show how much they love you by serving massive amounts of food. Then, if you don’t eat several portions, they feel that you don’t love them back. It’s a common disorder and painfully difficult to navigate. Let’s say I invite family from far away. If we’re not going to a restaurant and the kitchen is available, they will make themselves at home and prepare some delicious comfort food. Gigantic vats of the stuff. During the meal they’ll keep checking my eyes to make sure I love their creation. If I try and act cool, they will ask, “Do you like it?”
“Of course, of course. It’s delicious,” I answer, knowing how hard it is to make a great dinner. Plus, they came from far away and deep inside, I know, I should have cooked. Of course, I thankfully slurp up every morsel of the meal, mainly because I’m pretty easy to please, but subconsciously, I’m looking for a good reason to overeat. How can I argue with home-cooked and mouthwatering? Forgetting my doctor’s warnings about portion control, I inhale every fattening, delicious calorie. I take seconds to prove my love.
The reason I didn’t cook is, I’m not sure they’d like it. I guess it’s called experience. Everyone has varied tastes these days. Honey and nut allergies, milk sensitivities, etc. Few things can be as unsettling as rumors about how your fancy dinner caused a family member to go into anaphylactic shock. Ever since, I have cooking trepidation—there’s really a phobia—Mageirocophobia. (The fear of cooking). Fortunately, it’s not a severe case and I don’t need treatment. When it comes to love, I’m not a quitter.
The younger relations wash sugar-free and fat-free down with copious amounts of craft beer. Moments later, they begin a lecture about a new workout, while smoking. The older ones prefer bland over spicy. Teenage girls are in a vegan phase, which is a good thing but this usually lasts until they taste a brew-house burger. The boys like barbecue, but they haven’t yet studied carcinogens in school.
There's also the internet educational system. It’s enough to make you choke. Suddenly, everyone is a chef. Do I used grass-fed meat and range-free chickens? No, I use what looks best at the supermarket and just like grandma, I rinse everything. Still, the dinner conversation can turn ugly. I must be out of touch or cruel if I don’t watch those movie documentaries about the truth behind our food. Don’t I know about the unethical treatment of animals? The crowded chicken coops? The thrashed wheat?
Salad ingredients seem to be controversial too. Especially the dressing. Too sweet—too cheesy—too oily—too tart. Some don't like arugula, others hate cilantro. There's a romaine lettuce recall. Have I heard about it? Yup, I'm not serving it, am I? Help. And why do people pick fruit out of their salad? I’m back to casseroles. They seem safe enough and contain a fair amount of vegetables.
|PicJumbo picture by Viktor Hanacek|
And don’t get me started talking about dessert. Let’s say, I spent hours baking, frosting and decorating something amazing.But instead of appreciation, tell me why I'm being quizzed about ingredients? Did I use flour? Did I use sugar? If I pull something ready made from the freezer, “does it have artificial ingredients? Food coloring?” They look at me as if I want to poison their children. “Yes, it has sugar. It’s called dessert.”
But sadly, I’m back at that casserole. I still worry when placing the big dish in the center of the table. After all, I put my heart into it.
Speaking of hearts, it's aflutter. I search their eyes while perspiration breaks from my temples. If they don’t immediately look impressed, I’m all worried they won’t like it. If they don’t take seconds, my day might be ruined. Scooping almost full plates of food into the garbage pail, makes me want to cry.
You see, it’s a vicious cycle, fighting a nation of fast food. But a cycle of love. Someday, as my family DNA dissipates into the ether, there will be other, worse issues than this one. I imagine my future descendants screaming at each other about carbs, gluten and the Keto diet, which is also called the Caveman diet. The cycle has progressed to the point that the Stone Age has returned. Clubs have been replaced with modern weapons and hunting for the exact taste, the perfect morsel of food to satiate immediate desire, is only one freeway ramp away. And love.....Humans will have to find new ways to express their feelings.
As for my house, there’s this persistent issue connecting food with love. The slow cooker is simmering and the aroma is floating throughout the house. My husband is a great cook and whether I like his masterful concoction or not, I’ll be taking seconds.
Good excuse, huh?