Monday, December 24, 2012

The recalcitrant foodie's manifesto

Those of you who have been reading for a while know a few things about me: I like good food.  I like good wine.  I like to cook for my friends and family and to share meals with them as often as possible.

You also know that I married a man who eats because he has to.  When I rescued met my husband, he was living on frozen burritos and Jimmy John's sandwiches.  He claimed all the nutrition he needed came from a box of Kraft Dinner.  Breakfast?  What's that?  Ice cream was a meal in itself (for proof of my in vivo experience with this, see here).  Fresh fruits and vegetables did not exist for him.  They were an anathema to his way of living.  Getting a piece of iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato on his sandwich more than met his criteria for the four basic food groups, he said.

A typical pre-nuptial meal for the hubster.

The formula below, courtesy of my husband (who helped me create this post), is the differential equation for the principles that guide his food choices.  It is also referred to as the actuarial rule of the Cs and Ss.

Coffee + Cigarettes + Coca Cola x (desire)          massive
____________________________________ =   life insurance
Sugar + Salt + Starch x (stroke)

I live to eat.  My husband eats to live.  I don't understand this--especially because the above equation seems to be based on some pretty significant risk factors.

Since the beginning of our time together, my husband has made it clear that his only goal where food is concerned is to fill his belly.  He has often shared with me his thoughts and musings on his relationship to food and wine.  He has been quite generous with those thoughts and quite prolific, and I am often treated to his philosophical renderings at the very moment he makes eye contact with the plate I've put before him.

The man who claims, "I'll eat anything--I'm flexible," actually means that he'll balk at the unknown, the feared and the unfamiliar.  He'll also define--out loud and on the spur of the moment--what he thinks is edible.  Of course, all on his own terms.  I was at first annoyed and slightly insulted by his openness about his relationship with food and wine.  He is a forthright man and speaks his mind. 

But I eventually realized that his gag reflex is often controlled by what information his wife offers about the food.  So I have learned to shut up.  Which, for me, as most of you know, is a Herculean task.  And I have not given up on my mission to convert my husband (or at least sway him) to the glorious way of life that kindred spirits understand as foodie-ism, I have merely found other ways to circumvent his intractability.  Some call this a manipulation.

I call it a marriage.

I want to share with you, in hopes of gaining a little sympathy and support, what I have come to call The Recalcitrant Foodie's Manifesto.  Those of you in similar situations will recognize your partners--and yourselves.  You have my condolences.

      The Recalcitrant Foodie's Manifesto

1.)  Welches over wine.  Always Screw caps?  No problem for me whatsoever.  You're the wine snob.
2.)  Mushrooms: the flavor is fine.  The texture is not.  Don't put them in my food.  Same goes for clams, avocados and olives.  And capers.  I mean, what the hell?  You know I hate pickles, and tiny pickles just annoy me even more.
3.)  Asparagus: no matter how you fix it, I'm not gonna like it.  Not even wrapped in bacon, although that was a good trick.
4.)  Don't tell me what you put in my food.  I don't want to know that you use sour milk in my banana muffins because the thought of eating anything spoiled makes me gag.
5.)  Lie to me.  I don't want to know that I'm eating leftovers.  I probably won't notice that tonight's dinner looks the same as last night's dinner, but just in case, smother it with cheese or ketchup.  Do not cover it with parsley or anything remotely green.  That will only make me suspicious.
6.)  Don't mess up ice cream by putting stuff in it that doesn't belong there.  Chocolate.  Vanilla.  That's it.  No sauces, no toppings, nothing crunchy.  Just the ice cream, please.  And while we're at it, it should be softened before I eat it.  That time I left the whole carton out on the counter for almost two hours was a mistake, but I can't help that I'm easily distracted by the Golf Channel.
7.)  If I decide to eat fruit, it should be cold.  If you cook it and make it mushy or put warm fruit sauce on anything, I'm probably not going to eat it.  I don't care if apple pie is supposed to be warmed and served with ice cream or cheddar cheese.  Warm pie is gross.
8.)  The only way shrimp should be eaten is fried.  The bigger, the better.  Don't try to sneak those little shrimp into pasta dishes and call it "scampi," don't try to make me eat them cold disguised in cocktail sauce, or any other kind of sauce.  I'll still know there's cold shrimp in there.  And small, cold shrimp remind me of some kind of larvae.
9.)  Chickpeas, kidney beans and white beans do not belong in pasta.  If you want to empty a warmed can of Bush's beans over my spaghetti, bring it on.  But otherwise, ixnay on the eansbay.
10.)  Anything with stems still attached to leaves will be left on the plate.  If it takes more than 10 chews to swallow it, then it will be left on the plate because it's not going down.
11.)  Tuna fish salad is supposed to be eaten cold.  It was never meant to be heated with cheese between two slices of bread.  I know you call it a tuna melt panini because it came from that fancy grill thing that takes up too much space on the counter, but warm tuna panini is still nasty panini.
12.)  To clarify my first experience with Chinese Forbidden Rice: what is this stuff that looks like rat turds?
13.)  The only two acceptable toppings for desserts are Cool Whip and Reddi-wip.  In that order.  Whipped cream is a waste of time when you can get it in the freezer section or in a can.  And Cool Whip or Reddi-wip are the only two things that belong on my pie, which should be buried under the whipped topping.  Also, please reread #7 before you put anything on my pie, especially the part about "warm pie is gross."  Have you noticed that warm pie, Cool Whip and Reddi-wip don't really work out too well?
14.)  Meatballs should never be simmered in sauce.  Meatballs need to be crispy and sit on top of the pasta and sauce.  They get too mushy when they're wet and wet, mushy meatballs are just plain wrong.
15.)  Hamburgers don't include pickles, onions, lettuce or tomatoes.  If I had wanted a salad I would have asked for one.
16.)  I like my meat cooked.  My policy is that it needs to die twice.  If you want to tell the waiter to "slap it on the rump and send it out" for you, that's fine, but don't make me eat it, and don't make me watch you eat it.
17.)  Pizza: thin crust, sauce, pepperoni and cheese.  That's it.  You know, like they do at Pizza Hut.  If you have questions about what should be on my pizza, see #15.
18.)  Toast needs to be brown and warm so the butter will melt but the bread should still be soft.  If you can't figure out how to use a toaster, I'll happily show you since you insist on toasting my bread until it's unrecognizable.  And don't use that bread with the crunchy crusts.  Have you noticed they get left behind on my plate?
19.)  With regard to my eggs, "over easy" does not mean the same thing as "hard boiled."  I can't dunk my toast in hard yolks.  Not even your toast.
20.)  I will occasionally eat a salad, but you'll notice I'll never ask for one.  You can put iceberg lettuce in it and some tomatoes.  A little red onion is OK too, but under no circumstances should you put anything in it that is a darker shade of green than the iceberg lettuce.  Let me control how much dressing goes on the salad.  I like it drowned.
21.)  Also, don't put in things that don't belong in salads: olives, pickles, hard boiled eggs, red cabbage, apples, grapes or blue cheese.  Or nuts.  Nuts belong in the can so you can eat them easier.  You know, straight out of the can like I do during the game.
22.)  If you make a new recipe and I can't recognize it or pronounce it, then number it so I know whether or not to ask for it again or to avoid it in future.
23.)  I will eat fish.  I prefer the kind of fish that comes in the yellow and blue box with the fisherman on the front.  Fish is always white inside and brown and crispy outside and is about the size of a Kit Kat bar.  Don't try to sneak salmon, halibut or mahi mahi on my plate.  I will find out that it didn't come out of the yellow and blue box.  And you know it doesn't look like a Kit Kat bar.
24.)  Also about fish: you like to try to get me to eat those nasty fish eggs on things like fancy potato chips with that cream stuff and those really small, dry pieces of bread (remember #18?).  A word to the wise: if you want me to eat fish eggs, then make sure they're hatched and fully grown up first.  Then make sure they come out of the yellow and blue box.  Do I need to say anything about Kit Kat bars?
25.)  I hope my wife knows that most of the time, I really like what she puts on my plate and I know she does it because she loves me.  I tease her about being a foodie because I know she can take it.  But I like to brag to my golf buddies that the first year we were together, I didn't eat the same thing twice.  Now, how many guys can say that?


  1. Hilarious! Happy Holidays to you, and if you'd like to grab a meal sometime, let me know! :)

    1. Hey you! Thanks for that! And yes, I would love to have a bite to eat with you in the near future. I'll be in touch and Merry Christmas yourself!