My Husband, The Food Terrorist
My husband has, er, a strong opinion about the correct consumption of food. It overwhelms any sense of shame he might have (he hasn’t). He has embarrassed me so many times in so many food venues. And his food rules are many and complex.
He once demanded to see a manager in a McDonald’s.
On a date, in a 5 star restaurant in Atlanta, he waved over the maître d’ to inform him that the baked potatoes had been sitting under the warmer for far too long and they were unacceptably dry. I wanted to crawl under the table and yet… I married him.
Every time we go to Ruth’s Chris, he sends his steak back to be put back on the grill and done right, and he lectures the wait staff on the nuances of steak preparation. He informs them that he wants no pepper on the steak rub, and he doesn’t want it to come with sizzling butter on the plate. What possible food would NOT be improved by the presence of sizzling butter?
I am Harry. He is Sally.
He always demands his dressing on the side, because “they put too much on”. He requests no croutons. And when the croutons come anyway, he piles them reproachfully on the side of his plate.
We were out to eat with my parents, and my mom leaned over and whispered, “Why does he DO that?” She was referring to his highly odd practice of ordering a salad with chicken, and carefully removing the chicken and placing it on a separate plate. I had already asked him. “Why in the hell would you order a salad with chicken, and then take it off?” He looked at me as if I were dimwitted. “The hot chicken wilts the lettuce.” Seriously?
We have yet to buy food through a drive-through. He refuses to drive his food home, because it will be “too cold to eat”. Alternately, he also refuses to get Blizzards in the drive-through, because they will be too MELTED when we get home. He can’t eat melted ice cream. I’m not sure what he think happens when it gets into his stomach.
When we were first married, he was obsessed with expiration dates on food. He read everything in the pantry, and no matter what it was, he refused to eat it if it was one day past the expiration date. The first time I brought him home to meet my parents, he informed my mom that the can she had just opened was past its due date. My mother, who buys food and stocks her fridge and pantry as if she were preparing for Armageddon, clipping coupons and buying in massive bulk, looked at him like he had cabbages growing out of his ears. Actually, she looked at him like she wanted to whack him with a spatula. I know that look.
He has always been obsessed with sodium. His dad was probably the last human being who was ever placed on a low sodium diet. He scrutinizes everything he picks up in the supermarket and scowls. “I can’t believe how much SODIUM they put in this! It’s like the silent epidemic!” I have told him innumerable times that no one really worries about sodium any more. But I’m only a doctor, so what do I know?
Then there’s the fat thing. To say that he eschews fat would indeed be putting it mildly. He peels and scrapes and carves every bit of his meat which seems to be remotely white in color. Even a very lean pork chop – he carefully minces off scarcely visible edges of fat and piles them on his plate, testament to his lack of confidence in the buyer’s ability to purchase a decent piece of meat. He won’t eat a bite until the surgery is adequately performed. I’m not sure what he would do if he ever accidentally put a morsel of fat into his mouth. It would probably immediately induce vomiting.
And, there are the popsicles. He consumes sugar-free popsicles, packs at a time. He likes to bring them to TV time, so that the dialogue sounds like CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH rip, shred, rip, shred (him opening more popsicles). He used to do the crunching and the rip-shredding in bed too, until I made him stop. He leaves the wrappers everywhere, despite having a garbage can within arm’s reach.
He’s convinced that he has mercury poisoning, so he now rejects the “sulfur-forming” foods: cruciate vegetables, eggs, basically everything that is good for you. And he has another Bee in His Bonnet – after consulting multiple forums on mercury toxicity (but not a doctor), he now takes a chelating regimen of literally dozens of vitamins a day, to exorcise the evil toxin from his body. I don’t want to know how much they cost, but unfortunately I have a pretty good idea. We even have vitamin packages arriving from South Africa. He looks like an HIV patient – he has timers set on his phone, for these miracle workers must be taken at precise times. I don’t know what will happen if he messes up a dose, but I am sure it is dire. We have timers going off every four hours throughout the night.
Also, he refuses anything he had to eat in childhood. His family was fairly poor, and he had to live with his grandparents a while. They did a lot of living off the land; they had a garden and fished and hunted. So to this day, he will eat NOTHING that they had in abundance when he was a kid. No okra. No spinach. Only iceberg lettuce. And no freshwater fish, because they caught and ate them. They taste “too fishy”. I have no idea what the heck else a fish is supposed to taste like. He only eats top-of the-food-chain ocean fish, although he now rejects them as well because they contain mercury.
He goes on Atkins a lot, mainly when his 32’s get too tight. He refuses to buy up a size in the face of his increasing age. You would think, given his food obsessions, that he would eat a healthy diet. Oh, no. I think he would eat Mexican food every day if he could. He eats like a pig: ice cream, Blizzards, tangy Sweet Tarts, popcorn, until the 32’s get tight, then he slams on the brakes and eats only lunch meat and cheese. Cooking for my family is impossible. If you combine the fat-eschewing with the loathing of most domestic vegetables and fish and the fear of sodium, mercury and sulfur, and the no-carbs rule – big fun at meals in OUR house!
Just a little food OCD. I will not, however, mention the fact that I eat six cartons of yogurt a day. There’s NOTHING weird about that! Nope. Good times.