The Grocery Store Manifesto: All the People Must Eat
I am a professional Mommy.
No really, I have a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences. Yeah, Home Ec. But, I can’t sew. Sewing is not necessary anyway. No offense to those of you who do, truly, it is beyond me. Why craft what I can buy on Amazon? This way I don’t have to lose a finger or buy extra sessions with my psychiatrist.
Actually, I don’t see a psychiatrist. I got a graduate degree in counseling. So, for the most part, I counsel myself.
Myself recommended I steer clear of all things needle and thread lest I need to go back and get my doctorate in self-loathing.
My true craft can be found in all things food. Hence, the size of my hiney and the happy grin on my man’s face. He loves my red curry, lasagna, tacos, pheasant enchiladas, hatch green chili white chili, fried chicken, apple pie, coconut cream pie, let’s cut to the chase… all the pies. And, Clam chowder, chicken and dumplings, polo limòn soup, Aunt Sue’s chicken casserole – these are just a few of his favorite things.
I love to feed him.
He’s like my very own Ken doll. Only he refuses to wear board shorts and sandals.
I have the childhood delight of continually playing house and setting him at the table to serve him exotic foods. He flashes pearly whites, asks for more biscuits and tells me I am gorgeous.
I know… sounds lovely.
Side note, the kids ruin everything.
Justin, for the most part, can get into the food zone and ignore some of the nightmares that is dinner at our house. It didn’t use to be this way. Back in the day, like 10 years ago, I had a house full of “good eaters.”
Alas, we thought it wise to open our home to foster care and adoption, and we “inherited” ourselves, not so good eaters.
The biggest issue we faced with the original four children was a rice phobia. Our middle son, Luke was PETRIFIED of rice. No, I am not kidding. He would pull his hair out, gag, scream, and hyperventilate at the mere mention of the dish. We NEVER went out for Chinese food, and we always left weddings early, just in case the send-off included rice throwing.
Eventually, we sought a child therapist for him. He went to ONE session where he confessed he saw maggots in a trash can when he was three, resolved the issue and we went to The Great Wall of the All You Can Eat Buffet for a celebratory feast of fried rice, egg rolls, and more fried rice.
With 24 years of parenting under my very tight belt, I am continually mystified at what kids will and will not eat. As I said, I am a professional. Please refrain from emailing me your recipes that morph green beans into fire-breathing dragons in castles made of lean cuts of veal with gravy moats.
So, here I am at the grocery store, my list is like a legal document. Should it be notarized it could be used in diplomatic hostage negotiations. Truly, the balance of good eating and bad eating has been transformed into will eating and won’t eating. There are parenthesis, asterisks, an index, medical disclaimers, references in the footnotes and Cliff Notes available for a small fortune (call me.)
Some of you know of my grocery store debacles. The rumors are true about me, my head caught in a grocery basket, handcuffed in a police cruiser… and yes, I was naked in Walmart once. Well, partially. Still, I cringe whenever those Buzz feed “Naked People in Walmart” stories bounce around on social media. Been there, done that, Jesus please… don’t let that be my butt. You can read about those incidents, but no, this is a different grocery store lament. This is simply the one where the species, MOM, does the most creative, dare I say genius, work:
Grocery shopping for people who don’t eat.
Once our oldest moved off to college and the second left for the Marines, there was a shift in reasonable meal planning.
Actually, it started with our third foster placement, a delightful doll we called “Joy Baby.” Joy Baby would not eat. She drank $40 an ounce formula that smelled like skunk milk. I can’t verify this for sure, as I have never milked a skunk, but I am willing to bet. About 10 months into her placement she did try to eat a cotton ball. Also, she tried a dead cricket, dried leaves, and a dust bunny from under the bed.
Upon reporting this to our caseworker they assigned her a food therapist. The food therapist determined that Joy Baby had a sensory disorder that made her partial to dry and pungent foods. If memory serves, her food list included cotton candy, partially cooked long grain rice (ironic I know,) canned Baltic sea herring, any Indian dish, and Chicken Biscuit crackers, which she would eat a box of a day. She also guzzled green tea lattes, unsweetened.
Her presence, while dear and enchanting, shifted the “good eaters” into “picky eaters” and from there they just all lost their minds.
Luke, now 18 went from easygoing rice eater to vegan. I love this man-baby, I applaud his humanitarian efforts, however, he is the WORST vegan on the plant. He is vegan in all ways except if it is:
1. Covered in cheese
2. Is bacon, or
3. Is really hungry, which is all the time, and means he will literally eat anything.
Sophie, now 16 doesn’t like Italian, Thia, Mexican, seafood, nuts, legumes, or anything homemade. Two weeks ago, I made a homemade chicken pot pie. The crust was even from scratch. She took two bites and then claimed she wasn’t very hungry. Later that night, after everyone was in bed, I heard the someone in the kitchen. I went to investigate and found Sophie eating a MICROWAVED Swanson freezer chicken pot pie. Her defense? Mine tasted too “real.”
Heaven and earth.
Sam, our six-year-old “vandal” is allergic to tree nuts. He hates fruit, except for grapes, cut into quarters, green only, not red, and apples, with the skin off, red not green. He likes cheeseburgers, dry, but gags if there are sesame seeds on the bun. Sam will eat chicken nuggets, but only if they are shaped like dinosaurs. He loves macaroni and cheese – not homemade – just the “blue” box kind. He will eat Frosted Flakes, but only if you pretend to put salt on them. Gogurt yes, yogurt no. White string cheese, yes, orange block cheese no.
He will only eat vanilla ice cream and “white milk.”
Charlie, the four-year-old “vandal” eats carrots, baby only and no one can eat them at the same time as him. He like his grapes whole, red only, not green… and they must be peeled. Charlie will eat apples if they are diced, skin removed, green, not red. He will not eat ANY meat that is not highly processed. Chicken, steak, ground beef, and pork chops send him reeling. He will eat hot dogs but only if they are cut to look like an octopus. Heated, no. For me, a self-proclaimed gourmet, a cold hot dog that is morphed into a slimy creature from the deep? I just threw up a little.
He will eat cubed cheese, not string cheese, and it must be “orange.”
No nuggets, not even if they are fossil dated replicas, no corn dogs without sticks. Although, you can’t serve him a corn dog with the stick. Cook it with the stick, remove the stick in front of him, and then serve him the dog. He will eat spaghetti but only if it is in the shape of spaghetti. No bow ties, penne, or linguine. Also, he likes ketchup on it.
Jesus come quickly.
Both vandals like the crust cut off their sandwich, but Sam’s must be cut diagonally and Charlie’s into a circle shape. They both like raisins, but Sam only on Tuesdays and Charlie only on the weekend.
In a recent interview, someone asked me what my favorite food was, I could not think of a single thing. Food, in its entirety, is simply a cross I must bear. I cannot tell you what I like, my brain is too bogged down with what everyone else doesn’t like and the huge responsibility of keeping them nourished.
Nourished, ha. What a joke.
Undoubtedly, their insides are pickled with red dye #5 and chemically preserved preservatives.
Why am I even at the grocery store?
Perhaps it is an effort to fane control. I look as if I am a caring momma, who provides beautiful meals and nutritious options for her beloveds. But as I cross the items from my list/anti-nutrition thesis, I recognize I am among my sisterhood. A fraudulent bunch who wander the isles in search of the answer to all life’s mysteries on what they will and will not eat.
Today I picked Walmart. Yes, I did it on purpose. In my basket full of processed, clearance, and “discounted for immediate purchase” items I have two pumpkin spice scented candles, a pretty purple yoga mat, and a fancy bottle of coconut shampoo. Supposedly it will change my hair and life… forever. The indulgent purchases are not for eating but they help me reflect on the sanity of who I was, who I dreamed I would be. Here I make eye contact with other shoppers with tidy lists and the hope of feeding real food to their families.
Alas, we are liars and cheats.
Forced into the corner by taste buds that are trained to accept only that which is doused in MSG and is cut into the shape of a monkey or a platypus. I will unload these items onto a conveyor belt while the cashier sizes me up only to conclude, I am the worst. Yes, I concur.
I am the worst.
This is not food.Forced into the corner by taste buds that are trained to accept only that which is doused in MSG and is cut into the shape of a monkey or a platypus. Click To Tweet
But I will lose that label as I grieve the times I will handle the bags of cheese food and carbonated folly. Once off the shelf into the basket, then out of the basket onto the belt, then off the belt into the bag, back into the basket, then into the trunk, and into the house, out of the bags, onto the shelf, off the shelf… and into the frying pan. Sauté me in olive oil with just a smidge of garlic and don’t forget, I am gluten free.
Then, put a fork in me… I am officially done.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
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More grocery store antics and a hearty dose of Jesus can be found at The Cliff from Whence I Tumble
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