Friday, October 18, 2013

Food Surprises Can Lead to Food Phobias

I would take you......on a very strange journey.

Oh, sorry. That was the beginning of Rocky Horror Picture Show. But, it's accurate. I would like to take you on a journey through the life of a person for whom the relationship with food is a love/hate thing. It's a delicate situation. Anything can set off either a "food hate" or a "food phobia". How does something like that start? I'm about to tell you.

Picture it. You're at a......pot luck of some sort. Church, school....whatever. Being a person with a lot of food dislikes, potlucks are dangerous. But, you don't know that yet. You're about to find out, but for now, all is well.

People have made relatively normal food dishes so far. You've had a surprisingly enjoyable dinner. This is significant because some people like to get creative with their potluck food and make Eggplant Parmesan or coleslaw. It's okay when it's foods you are familiar with and like. Potlucks are like the lottery, you never know what numbers you're going to get or if they're going to be winners. You don't know this yet. You are young, wide eyed and naive. To you, everything in life consists of macaroni and cheese and pumpkin pie. You are not aware that there are more foods out there. Everyone lives on macaroni and cheese......don't they?

Now, after your main courses of bbq pulled pork, baked beans and au gratin potatoes (3 things you've eaten before and like relatively well), you're ready for desserts. There are many to choose from. You scan the dessert table (this is a fairly large potluck) and you start seeing things you've never seen at any family dinner, ever. Upon approaching the table, cautiously since hardly anything on it seems familiar, the lady that is supervising it starts explaining to you what everything is. Here is when your horror starts.

We have a mixed fruit salad with these little roundish things in it that look like tapioca. She calls it "Frog's Eye Salad" and your eyes bug out of your skull. How is this even remotely appetizing?? Well, you're not eating any frog's eyes, so you say 'no' to that. Then we have another mixed fruit salad, this one is called "Waldorf Salad". You've heard of this one, your clinically insane relatives make this one at American Thanksgiving. You've never been able to actually sit down and eat a fruit salad, mainly because the only fruits you like are peaches, bananas and blueberries and you definitely don't want those in the same bowl. Remember, your food can't touch. So, you say 'no' to that.

After the lady cycles through pretty much everything on the table, including minced meat pie (ground beef, brown sugar and raisins in the same pie crust. You have GOT to be freakin kidding me), heavenly pink salad (which looks innocent enough until you notice little particles floating in it,  they're pistachios), and an assortment of cakes (carrot cake, freakin seriously?!), you eye two plates. One has the most scrumptious looking brownies you've ever seen on it, waiting for you to gobble two or three of them down. The other has what look to your untrained, young, naive eye like oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips in them. Hot damn! You love chocolate chips! So, you pile 2 of those on your plate with your 2 chocolate fudge brownies and head back to the table. Don't pay attention to your parents raised eyebrows at how much sugar is actually piled on your plate, they obviously wouldn't understand.

Your parents have taught you that you do not waste food. If you take it, you damned sure better eat it because if you don't you're going to be eating it for breakfast the next day. They don't know that this is a failed parental tactic, they won't know that until you call their bluff on it once in the future when you're about 12, but that's neither here nor there. For now, you are scared of nasty meatloaf for breakfast and you heed the warnings about eating what you take and not looking like an arse. Won't be problem right now, though, right??? A plate full of cookies and brownies? Hell, you can eat this in your sleep!

You pick up a brownie and look at it. Admire it. Covet it. It looks like any normal brownie on the outside. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just chocolate fudge and cake. Oooey, gooey, brownie. You take a giant bite out of it and for about 3 glorious seconds you are in chocolate fudge heaven. After that 3 seconds of slow chewing, your chocolate fudge heaven turns into a chocolate fudge and "something crunchy" nightmare hell. You don't know what it is at first. But, you don't dare spit it out. Your father would freak. You just chew, eyes wider than before, yet not really raising any alarm. You swallow and then take a careful look at this brownie you've just bitten into.

It's freakin' walnuts. Some sick, twisted, masochistic freak as decided to ruin a perfectly good brownie by putting freakin' walnuts in it. Holy hell. How are you going to choke down 2 ruined brownies? It's like when you make brownies but you burn them and don't know it until you eat one. Ruined. 

You manage to gag down the rest of the brownie. You feel sick. You don't want to continue, but you've got two more there. Mocking you. "Bawhaha! We've got walnuts!" Eff you, brownies! You cautiously move on to the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. You don't know one person that's ever put chocolate chips in an oatmeal cookie, but there's always a first time. You pick up a cookie and eye it. You're looking for hidden walnuts. There doesn't seem to be any, but without deconstructing this cookie in public, you have no idea. It looks okay, take a small nibble. The nibble turns out okay, no stealth walnuts. So, you take a giant chomp and chew. Holy hell! That's......not a chocolate chip! It's a..........*gag*........raisin! Oh my god! You not only have to gag down another ruined brownie with walnuts, but now you have to eat another oatmeal cookie with nasty raisins in it!

Yep, that there happened to me at about age 6. My diet was already screwed because of my mother's fears that I wouldn't eat. I had a very hard time with food from......birth. I'm extra sensitive with food tastes. I think they now call this a.....super taster.....or something equally dorky. Super tasters can have selective eating disorder. And, I definitely have that! I've always had a limited diet, always. I probably always will. But, for the purposes of this story, there are two things I hate in this world. One is walnuts. The other is raisins. They ruin anything they're associated with. With the minor exception of Raisin Bran. I'll eat that. Why, I have no idea.

That incident there lead me to be very suspicious and cautious of eating foods that other people prepare if I'm not around to watch. I don't like to eat at other people's homes because of this. You just don't know what you're getting. That spaghetti you're piling on your plate could be full of extra hot italian sausage, which can ruin a plate of spaghetti for some. That cheese rice could have broccoli in it. That jello salad could have pistachio nuts in it, why people do that I have no idea. It also made me hate brownies. I have been unable to really enjoy brownies for most of my life. I loved them until that incident. Now, it's a flashback to the crunch, crunch of walnuts ruining. I also detest oatmeal cookies now. 9 times out of 10, people put raisins in them. 

My point with this story is that food surprises can lead to food phobias for certain people. I usually tell people exactly what I'm making when I make food for others. I also tell them exactly what's in them. If the table lady had told me that those were fudge brownies with walnuts and oatmeal cookies with raisins, I wouldn't have taken them. I would have been one disappointed 6 year old kid with nothing edible on that table, but I still wouldn't have had to gag down 4 items that were pretty much useless to me.

A couple years ago, I tried to overcome this particular flaw. Well, I see it as a flaw. I decided I was going to eat as much unknown stuff as I could that year. Some of it worked, I found some foods I do like and now I can eat them without any worries. But, it also added to the problem. You know they say that selective eating disorder can be overcome. I'm starting to have my doubts about that.

No comments:

Post a Comment