I thought I would try something new. A little field trip into my life. And the subject of this field trip? Food. Something we all love to hate. Or hate to love. Or something.
I have food issues. Well, I really have one big food issue that creates several smaller food issues. The big issue? I am really, really picky. And, I'm almost thirty. It's not going away. It's nothing my parents did--they have two picky children and two non-picky children. They tried different ways of breaking my pickiness but mostly they just learned how strong my gag reflex is.
Here are a few ways that my pickiness manifests itself:
- Mixy foods are out. Quiche--out. Most soups/stews/chowders--out. Sandwiches--out. Casseroles--out. I don't completely ban mixed foods. I like lemon yogurt with dry roasted peanuts mixed in. I like lasagna as long as there is no meat (and no really big chunks of vegetables--small and smallish chunks are okay). I like salads (with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, croutons and ranch dressing (has to be Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Recipe made from the packet--if you're a ranch fan but you buy those bottles of ranch that don't taste good (come on, they really don't) you're missing out. Try this dressing--look for the BUTTERMILK RECIPE on the package--the regular milk recipe doesn't taste right. And you need to buy real mayonnaise--no low fat or canola oil version. Just try it. The difference is truly amazing).
- No substitutes please (or Rosarita, why?). Ranch dressing (see #1). Heinz ketsup. Rosarita Vegetarian Refried Beans--except! When I was about twelve they changed the recipe. I noticed something was wrong right away--with my first bite of my bean and cheese (only, thank you very much) burrito. I checked the can (could my mother have bought some other brand--oh! the horror!) But no--it was much worse! It was right there on the can, in yellow, if memory serves, "NEW IMPROVED RECIPE". My burrito eating life has never been the same. I've tried other brands on occasion (and even tried to make my own refried beans once) but to no avail.
- No menu, thanks. At nice restaurants I generally have to get a steak because the chicken choices tend to be very mixy (it all seems to be stuffed with ham or cheese or something--really I try not to look at the descriptions--I want to keep my appetite). At some restaurants I don't even need to look at the menu. I know what I want because it is the same exact thing I've ordered ever time I've been there. You know when you go to a restaurant and the waitress comes to take your order and you need more time? That never happens to me. Never. I sat across the table from my sister last night as she perused the Tahoe Joe's menu. She couldn't decide what to get. This happens often. She is like my mom--they like trying crazy new foods. I just honestly can't imagine what that would be like. I look at a menu and go nope-mixy, nope-sandwich, nope-blah, blah, blah. I find THE thing I want and then start thinking about all of the questions I have to ask the waiter about the food (what comes on the salad? does the dressing come on the side? What does your chef consider medium? what about medium-well? can my steak be medium-medium-well? are those garlic mashed potatoes or normal mashed potatoes (you all can guess by now that the garlic ones are out--here's a tip--cheese and potatoes do not belong together. Neither do garlic and potatoes. It's just not right!))
- Smells and textures matter. I can't stress this one enough folks. If something smells bad or funny or just generally wrong--it shouldn't go in your mouth. Most mixy foods have generally wrong smells. You can't tell what's in it from the smell. It's all too mixed up. When I was little I used to have to pinch my nose shut in order to take my "three brownie bites" of QUICHE (my mom LOVES that stuff). And scalloped potatoes? Besides breaking the "cheese and potatoes don't belong together" rule, they just smell really, really awful. I remember many an afternoon when I would come home from school and smell that awful smell and know I wasn't going to eat much for dinner that night. Cause you know what? In my family, pork chops often come with scalloped potatoes. And you know what else? Pork is out (unless it is in the form of breakfast sausage and there is IMITATION maple syrup to dip it in). But to go back to quiche for a minute--this one is a double whammy in this category. Knocks me out with its smell and makes me gag when the custardy-nastiness tries to slide down my throat. Uggh. Custard. Out. And leftovers? They smell and feel and taste different from their fresh counterparts. Mostly, leftovers-out.
- I really don't eat sandwiches (mostly). You may have noticed that I dismissed sandwiches with little fanfare. People just can't believe this one. They are shocked (and sometimes seem truly offended) that I can exist without slapping mustard (yuck) and mayo (yuck-unless it is well mixed (hah! mixed) together with buttermilk and ranch dressing mix) on two pieces of bread and smashing anything and everything else in between the slices and calling it food. But I must admit that sandwiches are not totally out. Grilled cheese sandwiches are okay. Once or twice a year I get a craving for a turkey sandwich and my husband and I will go to Subway. His order: Blah-blah-blah sandwich with everything. My order: Could I have a turkey sandwich on a french roll but just ONE slice of turkey, lettuce and pickles and oh, extra pickles. I'm not so fond of slice meat so the pickles bring down the taste of the turkey. And on hot days (especially if I've been swimming) a peanut butter sandwich (Laura Scudder's Chunky and my mom's homemade wheat bread) really hits the spot.
I hope no one thinks I'm complaining here. Yes, it does get boring. Yes, I wish we could just eat once a week and get it over with, rather than having to eat daily--several times a day, in fact. Yes, I get a little tired of the same few things over and over. Yes, I used to hate eating out. When I was younger I actually cried once because there was nothing on the menu that I could eat except for dessert (Mexican restaurant that had only black beans--sad, sad day. We were on a trip and my parents made me order a dinner plate that cost twelve dollars when I begged to be allowed not to eat anything. When those black beans really wouldn't go down they gave in and ordered me a sundae). And yes, it made it hard to spend the night at friends' houses (but the homesickness made it even harder :) and I've been gently teased and not so gently teased and embarassed at times. And I used to hate it and even feel ashamed and think why can't I just grow out of it like everyone always says I will. But you know what? Now I've kind of grown into it. I'm okay with it. I don't mind it so much. In my secret heart of hearts, I kind of like it now. I kind of like that I don't eat all the strange food that is out there in the world. I just can't fathom seeing something with unidentifiable ingredients and thinking, "Yeah, I want that in my body!" I think I've come to a point in my life where I'll stop calling myself "picky" and start calling myself "selective" (connotations are everything, you know?).
Oh, and one more thing. I have the best husband. He'll eat anything (a good person to have around when eating away from home--I can move all the nasty things from my plate to his) but doesn't mind eating the same thing over and over (really good thing to have when eating at home--no complaints--ever).
and to prove that these aren't hard and fast rules,
and because this meal is leftover and mixy
(rice and chicken together! and there are onions and peas in there people!),
I present you with a picture of my lunch: