Today's post is an exception to the normal Monday-publishing schedule because it is part of Blog Action Day 2011.
I've always been complicated when it comes to food. People who know me only now (now that I am mature and grand and magnanimous) may *think* I am complicated - but I am the loveliest dinner guest, now that I've grown up. And I have my father to thank (I don't thank my father for many things, so you know this must be important). I believe in the "tough love" theory of upbringing. I believe in it because it works. It's not nice, it's not pretty, and it hurts a little - but it works.
I had issues with food all along. I used to eat nothing but chicken. The story goes that we went to the beach one day to eat fish - what else would one eat at the beach? When the waiter offered all the varieties of fish available, I asked about the chicken. He gave me a weird look, but my mother was quick to interrupt: "Yes, please, she will have the chicken-fish." And so it was settled.
One time, I guess I must have been about 7 or 8 years old, my parents, my little sister and I went to spend the weekend out of town. We had a nice apartment in a city on the coast, right on the beach, beautiful view, an hour away from our home. When we arrived, the neighbors were having a huge dinner party and kindly invited us - although we were not in their plans nor on their list. The hostess, who was very fond of me, in trying to be extra special, gave me a double serving. When I received my plate, although I was (and still am) a very, very polite young lady, I said, "Ew, that's, like, green soup-", I dipped my spoon in the soup and I could see millions of veggies and dead animals swimming inside it, "-and with vegetables? Uh, no, thank you very much. I am not hungry."
My father was so embarrassed, had it not been illegal to kill me, he would have (the host was a criminal lawyer... it was seriously a bad idea). He apologized on my behalf and whispered in my ear, "That was your last meal. You will learn what it's like to feel hunger."
You have to know something about my father: when he says something, he goes through with it. And although he might realize sometime down the road that he was, in fact, wrong, or exaggerating, or just plan mistaken, he will still go through with it. His damn pride.
It will be ok, I thought. I wasn't hungry anyway - I mean, who would be hungry after seeing that disgusting green porridge, like something out of a Dr. Seuss book? And I was sure that my mom would save me the next day. Morning came and there was no breakfast for me. Oh, whatever, I thought. I was still not hungry. Lunchtime, and no food for me. Now I was starting to feel it. But being my father's daughter, I kept it all inside me and didn't flinch. In noting my strength, my father decided to take us kids to a candy store to buy all we could hold in our hands. He never ever did that. My dad is all about saving money, not spending it. Guess which child came out with nothing in her hands - but also, guess which child did not shed a tear.
Dinner time came by and my mom sneaked a piece of bread and coke in my room. My father found out - I can still hear him screaming. The next morning, friends of my father's came to visit, and the wife sneaked me a sandwich. I was such a brat - I opened the sandwich and found tomato and lettuce. Although I was starving, I said, "Oh, no thank you, I don't eat vegetables." She was appalled. Offended. Surprised. In awe. Lunch again, and seeing as I was a little pale, my father accepted that my mother sneak me a normal veggie-less sandwich, which I devoured. At dinner, I was no longer able to stay awake, I was so weak. Seeing me, my father approached me and asked me if I would like something to eat. My eyes grew wide open and I almost smiled. He said, "You will be able to eat if you eat every single bit I put on your plate now." I agreed.
He came back with a huge plate: spaghetti with a lame Bolognese sauce, white rice, plantains, and a shish-kabob thingy. I guess he knew me well enough and loved me enough not to serve me a salad. I ate every single bite. I ate everything - but I have to admit that the whole time I was thinking, "Ew! Who eats spaghetti and white rice?!"
I was spoiled. I still am. I wish I could say that I have never ever again rejected a meal. I have. 20 years have gone by and I still say, "No thank you" when I don't like what is being served. I am, however, not as impolite as to say, "Ew!" I think it, though.
I don't think my father changed me. I am who I am, and I eat what I eat. But he did educate me. He gave me his own personal version of, If you have nothing nice to eat, don't eat nothing at all.