Monday, April 12, 2010

Food! Really Gross Food!

I've always had a strong feelings about food.

When I was a kid my mother always told me that I ate so fast it was as if I thought someone was going to snatch my food away at any moment (which, to be fair, was a distinct possibility as the youngest of three kids).

My passion for exuberant food consumption continues to this day. My husband and I often observe that about 85% of our dating relationship was based on food: we'd talk about where we were going to eat, then we'd go out to eat, and finally we'd spend the remainder of the evening discussing what we'd just eaten. It wasn't a lot to build a successful marriage around - but somehow we've made it work.

In no way is all this to say that I'm what you'd call A GOOD EATER.

As fervent I am about food I like to eat, I'm just as passionate about my food phobias. I'm completely repulsed, for example, by any sort of condiment: ketchup, mustard - you name it. The yucky crunchiness of celery or cucumber is the stuff of my nightmares, and don't even get me started on the horror that is raisins.......

When I was a kid my sister and I invented a game that was a variation on "hide and seek". What gave the game its extra edge was that the seeker would declare herself to be some sort of disgusting food stuff to add a special degree of terror to the proceedings. So, for example, you could often find one of us stalking around the yard, arms outstretched, and shouting in a spooky voice:

"I'm a half-chewed eggplant and I'm coming to get yooooouuuuuu!"

This intense phobia re: food-based grossness has NOT served me well as the mother of a self-feeding 18-month-old.

Though it was over a decade ago, to this day I can clearly remember watching my sister-in-law feed her toddler as we sat talking. After her son had stuffed about half of a ketchup-laden hot-dog into his maw with his bare hands, he decided he didn't like the way it tasted. My sister-in-law never stopped chatting with me as she extended her hand to allow her son to spit the contents of his mouth into her palm. As I recoiled in horror she calmly placed the result in the garbage before wiping both their hands. I clearly remember thinking at the time,

"Oh my God, I'm NEVER having children."

But let me tell you, these days at my house - a palm full of chewed up hot-dog is AMATEUR HOUR.

I turned to David the other day and said,

"I think if we just put food on a plate and then blew it towards Snoodie with a high-powered fan it would result in him ingesting more food while creating less mess."

And I meant it. The Snood is resolute in his desire to eat each meal WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM MOMMY!

He uses a spoon to deliver the meal of the moment towards the general vicinity of his mouth, and then proceeds to use the back of his hand much like a battering ram to shove the food towards the back of his throat, chewing maniacally the whole time.

The result is food goo EVERYWHERE! Yogurt on the walls...bits of masticated Goldfish under the high chair....syrup in the hair. The other night I got into the bathtub and after several moments noticed a handful of small pieces of cheeseburger floating around the water, having been loosed from somewhere on my person.

If you'd told me several years ago that my reaction to such a revelation would be to calmly continue my bath like so much human stew, I would have told you that you were crazy - that there was no way that my personal grossness threshold could EVER get that high. But I would have been wrong. It takes a lot more than that these days, and it's helped me reach a kind of peace with food that I'd never known before.

Just don't try to get me to eat any damn raisins.