Monday, November 15, 2004

my little fruit fly

I've been a vegetarian for something like 13 years. People ask me if I've had "those red meat cravings yet." I grow weary of the ultimate certainty so many have in their world view. If only I possessed such confidence. (This goes for more than diet choices.)

My baby wants fruit. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. It's by far my biggest craving. And I'm happy to oblige. Oranges, strawberries, watermelon, pomegranates, tart apples (none of those shiny red things), spinach, carrots, asparagus. I'm a long way from my beginnings eating TV dinners in a once-farming town raised by a mother who, when given the choice, to this day takes canned asparagus over fresh every time.

I grew up in a town that suffered from an image neither here nor there. It used to be many things, but was nothing else yet. By the time my family moved there when I was ten, most of the fields were planted with Burger Kings and 7-11's. Of course, there was old Bill Andersen who steered his pickup truck around town with his one and only arm -- the other having been torn off by the soybean processors when he was just eighteen. He didn't make the farming history real for me though, just creepy. And there was the Lima Bean Festival every October - stuffed lima bean dolls smiling dumbly through red felt lips, tee shirts gloating over the mental faculties of local elementary school kids and how they used their “beans,” the crowning of a Miss Lima Bean, who would undoubtedly use her reign to further world peace, or at least get a stop sign at the traffic circle and introduce non-fat milk at the school cafeterias. None of this told me anything of what those beans might look like growing in the fields, or what they might smell like fresh picked and pre-canned.

At home, I failed to see the relationship between the greyish, watery vegetables my mother scooped from cans on the shelf, and something that once grew in the ground. Potatoes grew as flakes in a box, rice cooked to flavorless starch in minutes, pineapples floated in stick syrup, "cherry" was most often followed by the word "flavored". The world came canned, sealed, packaged, bagged, dried, sweetened, chopped, and pitted. And while I suspected there could have been a better way, I didn't know what that was or where to look.

I find it significant that one of my strongest childhood memories centers around my cousins coming to visit from upstate New York. The significance of the memory isn't in the visit itself, but that I remember in preparation for the visit, we bought grapes. Other than my cousin breaking my rocking horse that weekend, it's the grapes I've stored in my brain all these years.

I can see I may already be falling into the trap of parental overcompensation. The "I never had, so I'm going to give my child X whether s/he wants it or not" trap. But then again, when it comes to food here, I feel I'm simply following directives from within. It's not as if what I'm doing is so heroic. If my little fruit fly asked for cheesy poofs instead, far be it from me to deny the wee beast. So lift a banana to us. Here's to never having to say "Eat your veggies."


Anonymous said...

This reminds me...

My boyfriend was a vegetarian for 13 years (isn't currently though) and you'd think his family would have been used to the idea. But noooo. Last Christmas, he was called into a "secret" meeting in the hallway outside the kitchen, within sight of where I was sitting, and interrogated in hushed voices as to whether or not "she would notice if we used chicken broth in the stuffing."

Someone said, "what's going on in there?" and my boyfriend said, "He wants to know if Tracy would notice if he used chicken broth, and I told him it was wrong to even ask that." I sat there as if no one even knew I was in the room, but proud at being defended like that.

It was all so... melodramatic, and the fact that there was a container of mushroom broth sitting on the counter next to the chicken broth made it all the more ridiculous.


Kitty said...

hee hee hee. i laugh at this story's familiarity. people and their freakin chicken broth. when i'm president...

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