Monday, May 31, 2010

The End of the War

I have a friend who has a theory about olives and couples. Her is theory is that one person in the relationship always loves olives and the other person always hates them. When I first learned of this theory, I did find it to be true in my own coupling, and I will have to admit that when I gave it some thought, it did ring true in many of the couples that I have known.
I am a person who loves food in all its glory. I love fancy food, I love simple food. I love sophisticated entrees, and I love simple dishes. I love to talk about food with others. I love to watch it being discussed, prepared, or even eaten. I love to shop for it. There isn't a day that goes by that food does not play a very real, important role in my life. I am most certainly a "foodie," if not a plain ol' "addict." So, imagine my very real surprise and amazement when I realized this evening that Andy was NOT a foodie. In fact, he is actually quite picky about what he likes and does not like to eat. The only question that I could ask myself after realizing this is, "How have I ended up here?!"
I had this epiphany on the way home from a very lovely Memorial Day cookout. Our friend Donna had put a twist on the traditional cookout by having a Greek theme this year. Her husband Greg manned the grill, but instead of the same boring hamburgers, he grilled Greek chicken burgers for everyone except himself. For Greg, Donna had made just a regular hamburger. You see, Donna is faced with a finicky eater herself. For years I have known this about Greg, and have always feel a pang of pity for Donna, knowing that she will never freely get to go the great Indian restaurant that I love or the vegetarian grill that is so great, or anywhere that doesn't serve a steak. All this time, I never realized I have a closeted finicky eater right under my nose in Andy just waiting to burst out.
I think I have been very diligent in my denial of what I will have to call Andy's handicap. I have known for years he does not like certain foods. I just simply have chosen not to accept it. He hates raw tomatoes, yet likes them cooked. This makes absolutely no since to me. I can not fathom that a person would not like a raw tomato. In my book, a garden fresh tomato is one of the best things you can ever eat. Instead of accepting that he doesn't like raw tomatoes, I will occasionally insist on him trying a bite of one. My insistence usually leads to a minor argument with Andy saying that he is an adult and knows if he likes a food or not, and me telling him that he must be wrong and that he will like it this time if he would just try it. Eventually, he gives in and tastes the raw tomato and hates it. I then move on, silently stewing over this obvious brain malfunction in him.
He is the same way about celery. He does not like it raw, but will eat it cooked. Knowing this, I will still, occasionally, cut up a celery stalk and put it into a salad, thinking that he will not notice it and eat it. I will then be able to do the big "AHA! GOTCHA!" moment on him. But every time I try this, he eats his salad, and I notice when he is finished there is a pile of raw celery left in his plate. I know then that he is silently thinking that he won another round of our food war, which until this weekend only made me want to fight harder.
We were invited to two cookouts this weekend, and both had food items that Mr. Andy would not eat. At our friends Glenn and Doug's on Saturday, Glenn had made homemade salsa that was fabulous. Andy couldn't eat it because it had raw tomatoes and cilantro in it. We already know about his tomato problem, but cilantro tastes like dish soap he says. Tonight, Donna served olive tapenade as one of the appetizers, along with hummus, and roasted tomatoes. Andy could eat the tomatoes because they were roasted, not raw, but does not like olives, so no tapenade. For dinner, a Greek salad was served. It had raw tomatoes, olives, onions, feta cheese, and dressing. Andy would not have touched it with a 10-foot pole. See how confusing it gets?! I had three helpings of the Greek salad, by the way.
For dessert, I had brought a cherry pie that we had purchased frozen for a fund-raiser a few months ago. It was great, and very traditional for Memorial Day. To my shock and surprise, Andy said he did not like cherry pie. Who doesn't like cherry pie?! Apparently, in this food situation, Andy likes raw cherries, but not cooked cherries. It is a texture thing, he says. I was just dumbfounded. I, of course, immediately thought that he must be mistaken, and that he probably was confusing cooked cherries with something else. I kept insisting at the table until he took a bite. He tried it and confirmed his original position of not liking it. Donna and Greg's soon to be 3-year-old, Jackson, also tried the pie. His reaction was much more honest than Andy's. He looked like a cartoon character who had eaten a hot pepper. His face contorted and moved in various ways while he tried to eat the small bite. Donna asked if he liked it, and he simply said, "No," and I believed him.
On the way home, I thought to myself that if I can accept the fact that a 3-year-old does not like a particular food, then why should I not trust Andy when he says he does not like something? That was the moment of my epiphany. Andy had not been participating in a food war with me. He didn't even know there was food war going on. He simply does not like certain foods under particular conditions. As foreign a concept as this is to me, I finally decided to accept it. I raised my white flag in defeat to end the one-person-food-war.
I am part of a couple. I am the olive lover and Andy is the olive hater. How I ended up here is any one's guess. I will try to muddle through with this new found knowledge, and try not to force feed him every food item that he says he does not like in hopes of changing his mind. I will no longer sneak forbidden ingredients into dishes hoping he will not notice. But I warn you, fly your Finicky Eater Flag now, Andy, because I have 7 tomato plants out back in the garden, and when they bear fruit, all bets could be off, and a salad of fresh tomatoes and olives from this olive branch I am extending could be your dinner.

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