You wouldn’t know it by looking at me – I’m, how to put this nicely? Robust? Rubenesque? Zaftig? I’m no skinny bitch, how about that – but I have weird, weird food issues. I was thinking about this yesterday when someone asked me if I wanted an iced tea and they laughed at the face I made in response. Apparently, everyone likes tea? Everyone in the entire world? And I’m the only person who doesn’t?
So I thought, maybe I’m a complete loon! Maybe my food issues and weird disgusted reactions to foods aren’t normal! So as I often do, because I am anal and secretly an 80-year-old and like the order and neatness of a good list, I made a list of things I can not, and will not, ingest, under any circumstances.
Tea (iced or regular)
Any carbonated beverage
Carrots, radishes, beets, turnip (really most root vegetables)
Peaches (or any fruit with fuzz on it)
Peppers of any type, hot or bell
Raisins, dates, figs, or any dried fruit that gets in your teeth and is sticky
Any type of melon
Canned meat (such as Spam, Vienna sausages, potted meat)
Fish that smells or tastes like fish
Beef that is not cooked all the way through
Fruit rollups and/or fruit leather
Candy that tastes like perfume (this is really a thing, and it’s DISGUSTING)
Does this list make me out to be an insane person? See, I have reasons for most of them. Root vegetables taste like dirt to me. Celery has those strings on it and also that weird taste that gives me an ice-cream headache. I don’t like fruit with fuzz because who wants to eat fuzz? Also, I don’t like the taste and stickiness and grossness of peaches. I’m actually not much of a fruit fan. I know, I know. Peppers have that skin on it that gets stuck to the top of your mouth and makes you want to vomit. Meat in cans is unnatural. I am not insane! There are reasons for these issues!
I also have medical issues: I can’t drink carbonated beverages because I am on a migraine medication that makes carbonated beverages taste bitter. Weird side effect, but hell, I went from 15-20 migraines a year to 2-3. I will take that shit until it stops working and who cares about soda. Also, Fritos make me unable to breathe. I don’t know about that one. The scent of Fritos closes up my lungs for some reason. It’s like the most obscure allergic reaction ever. It’s a hipster allergic reaction, if you will. (Oh, it’s an obscure allergy. You’ve never heard of it.) I don’t know what the hell it’s all about. But if someone’s eating those nasty things near me, I have to leave.
And personal life issues: after a hangover that lasted three days, beer tastes and smells like vomit to me. Never again. Also, when I was a child and sick home from school one day, my grandmother decided the only thing that would cure me was Lipton tea. An entire pot of it. Without any sweetener or lightener. I had to drink an entire pot of straight unsweetened Lipton tea. I can’t even take a whiff of tea now. The stuff nauseates me. Hot, cold, it doesn’t matter. I hate it.
Then there are things I will eat/drink grudgingly, but I don’t like them:
99% of alcoholic beverages
Garlic as a component in anything
Any other type of beef not mentioned above
Vegetables that crunch unexpectedly in your mouth when they’re supposed to be cooked and mushy
Cereal that hurts the roof of your mouth
Potatoes (in the skin)
Potato/pasta salad (because there are often unseen crunchy bits in there that might be onions)
So, as you can see, the list of things I will eat is:
Anything with mushrooms in it
No, I’m kidding. I eat! I eat plenty, thank you! More than I should! But seriously, is it completely weird to have foods you won’t eat, under any circumstances? I remember as a kid this being a huge issue. My parents were very pro-cleaning your plate. We still have a family story that we talk about at times: my grandmother (not the tea grandmother, but the other one) came to visit, and my father had sent me to bed early for refusing to finish my carrots. She was FURIOUS. (This grandmother, who has sadly passed away, was a spitfire. She was very sweet, but whoo! when she was angry? Tornado of awesomeness.) “YOU DO NOT FORCE A CHILD TO EAT THINGS THEY HATE,” she told him. She then came upstairs and rescued me from my room. And I never had to eat carrots again. And I haven’t since. I hate the nasty little suckers. They are disgusting. I’m with Anya in Buffy when she mistrusts bunnies. “What’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for, anyway?”
I was also made to stay at the table until I finished things. The “thing” in question was usually beef or venison. I don’t like red meat. I had a lot of trouble choking it down. Sometimes I’d be there for hours. My brother was the same way with other foods. My parents didn’t understand this – the food was made, the food was nutritious, the kids needed to eat it. End of story.
When I grew up, there was so much choice! I didn’t have to eat things I didn’t like! I could (and…um…did) eat cereal for dinner every night for a week! I also lived with someone who had similar food issues, so neither of us found each other’s things weird. So she wouldn’t eat fruit, or anything fruit-flavored! And I wouldn’t eat red meat voluntarily! No judgment zone!
Now The Nephew is going through the same thing. He used to eat anything you put on his plate with a smile on his face. Now he goes through phases. He almost drove my very carnivorous father to drink with his “vegetarian” phase (I called it that, just to see my father’s reaction) when he wouldn’t eat any meat at all. It only lasted a few days, but he was very vocal about no meat. Now he will eat anything, but it all has to have ketchup on it. Including – and I wish I was kidding about this, but I got the report last night – prunes. Last night he put KETCHUP on a PRUNE and ATE IT. He LOVES ketchup. He also would eat his weight in pizza or yogurt if you let him. His delight in pizza is a joy, actually. We gave him a piece of pizza last month and he looked at us with love in his little eyes. “It has CHEESE on it!” he said. We acknowledged that it did, and he ate it. We gave him another one, and it was like the goldfish that only remembers things for five minutes then his memory resets. Just as rapturously, “It has CHEESE on it!” he said. Aw, to be two again, when cheese pizza is as beauteous a thing as the Sistine Chapel! It would make the crushing reality of being me so much easier to take if CHEESE PIZZA could make me overwhelmed with the sweet mystery of life.
I guess I don’t tend to judge if someone I encounter doesn’t like to eat something. (Although, I have to say, I did do a double-take when my father, who has a sweet tooth which I inherited, did not enjoy Nutella. How…how can a person not…it’s chocolate and hazelnut goodness…I don’t…THIS DOES NOT COMPUTE.) I do judge if they haven’t ever tried it and say it’s bad – because it’s shitty to make a judgment if you’ve never tasted it – but if they don’t like it? Fine. I can’t judge. I don’t like ROOT VEGETABLES. Or CELERY. Or for the love of all that’s holy, tea. Which apparently OFFENDS PEOPLE. Listen, don’t judge my beverage choices, and I won’t judge your use of “alot” or “you’re shoes are pretty,” ok? (I’m totally lying. I WILL judge you. I’m judging MYSELF for writing those EXAMPLES. There is NO EXCUSE.)
So listen, if we go to dinner, and it takes me twenty minutes to read the menu to figure out what to order, just sit back and relax. I am completely worth the wait. But if you order me an iced tea because “everyone likes iced tea,” I’m walking. I mean it.