Another one of my complicated relationships is with food. Food provides me with a different element of neurotic behavior topped with a heaping supply of anxiety finished off with a dusting of contemplation about what I ate and what I will eat next.
Recently, my FHB and I had a discussion with some friends about the risks we all take when we eat at a restaurant. It was not about contracting food poisoning but more about not getting a good meal, making the right choice, and the possibility that you might be the designated “take one for the team” person at the table (if you are dining with others) that gets the lousy meal, while everyone else seems pretty happy with what’s in front of them. The odds are often not in my favor. When we go to a new restaurant, I peruse the menu like it could possibly be my last meal. When there are too many choices, I choke, not literally, but go into neutral and order something that I usually would consider my default setting. It’s somewhat like having 24 flavors of ice cream and ordering vanilla. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Vanilla gets a bad rap. Sometimes I will look at a menu online and plan ahead so that I seem confident in my choice as in “I’ll have the broiled fish”. Not that there’s anything wrong with broiled fish. It just seems so meh.
Sending food back is something I vascillate about. Surrounded by other people, I am more reluctant to make a fuss so I do what I call the five year old’s method of “I’m all done. Can I have dessert, please?” move. I smash the food, rearrange it on the plate and try to engage my companions in political discussions (which could result in nobody being hungry) to take the attention off of the obvious issue that I hate what I ordered. I was a precocious five year old who had strong political opinions. I also struggle with not ordering the same thing as my FHB since it seems like then I am a copycat. Nobody likes a copycat. I will often “suggest” something to my FHB so as to be able to pick what I think I really want and that often works out well. However, there are some times when at the last minute, as the server is waiting to take our order, and I tell my FHB to go first, he will go in for the bait and switch and order what had been my plan to choose. There’s the anxiety and the neurosis, rolled in breadcrumbs and covered in cheese.
We don’t eat out all the much for people in our age group, which seems to be a thing when you reach a point and you calculate that you (that would be me) over the course of a lifetime have cooked about a million meals (or like McDonald’s used to advertise “billions and billions served”). So, after a million meals, you don’t want to cook as much. I actually do enjoy cooking at home and I like challenging myself to preparing a good meal, which includes protein, carbs (ahhhh) and vegetables in under 35 minutes. I will often plan it as I am driving home and as I open the door it is like my version of Beat the Clock. I am usually too tired to actually eat it but it looks good and the reviews (from my singular patron, the very non fussy FHB) are good.
Our culture has taken food to new heights. Whereas in the growing up years food that was convenient and often frozen to table in under an hour, was the goal of the housewife. Now we have gone full circle and simple is not necessarily easy and fresh is the word on the street…the local street. I sometimes think that having only a few choices of food, would make my neurosis resolve itself and eliminate my anxiety. I could spend more time thinking about how to solve our current political problems and how the world is spinning out of control. I’ve lost my appetite.