Monday, June 7, 2010

Pollen and the scent of honeysuckle

Once upon a time E was an eclectic and adventurous eater. From as early as when her cohorts were mastering their pincer grasps with Cheerios, E practiced on black beans and held them in her heart as her favorite food for another two years. She'd eat garlicky olives and nori and I remember one particular dinner when she polished off six baby lamb chops. I used to think, Oh, how lucky I am -- with her I escaped the picky eater syndrome.

Then one day she declared that she didn't like beans anymore. We thought she was kidding. She ate them a few more times and then broke up with them permanently. The skins, she said. The way the skins rubbed off of the beans and became their own loose entities -- that just wasn't working out for her mouth. We lost chickpeas shortly thereafter, too. Same reason. Then she didn't like her saffron rice anymore. She abandoned her red bell peppers. She even said goodbye to M&Ms. The crunchy shrapnel that attacked her tongue when she chewed them were too distressing. She won't eat a Hershey's Kiss, either, for reasons I haven't uncovered yet, but she'll happily accept a square of Dove chocolate.

Goodbye went broccoli and asparagus and green apples. Goodbye went noodles bearing sauce. We brace ourselves for the regular announcements of what's been blackballed today. Goodbye went all red meat. No hot dogs or hamburgers. No corn on the cob, either, though frozen corn niblets rewarmed are still (barely) acceptable.

No ketchup. McCarthy would be proud of her thoroughness in ridding the taste buds of bohemians and freaks.

Today we hit a new low. A mainstay of her (ridiculously unchanging) diet has been cheese and crackers. Please understand that by cheese I mean only cheddar, and in fact I mean only two-year-aged white cheddar made by a certain brand; nothing else will do. And by crackers I mean only Triscuits. If by 'cheese and crackers' you're imagining a variety of options, No. That cheddar, and Triscuits. We thought of them as a happily married couple, like how L thought peasncorn was one word, back when E would still eat peas.

Well, the dairy and carbs of our kitchen were dissolved of their unions today like California's same-sex couples. E told me today that she can't put her cheese on her crackers anymore. They have to be eaten as two separate foods. My heart breaks for them - for the Californians slightly more than the cheese - but love torn asunder is always tragic. Some things are meant to be together, but E can be ruthless with her decision-making.

For tomorrow, we'll prepare her meals that much more carefully. We never force food or make fights out of food as long as they eat a balanced diet, and yes, plain pasta, chicken breast and an apple a day kinda sorta really is a balanced diet. But I can't help but thinking the day is coming when those core foods too will be rejected in turn, and we'll find E daydreaming through the meadow, a straw to nothing tipped whimsically out of her lips, a beatific half-smile on her face, sipping on oxygen and calling it a delicious repast.


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