Without a doubt, I was the worst, most picky eater in the family and my almost anorexic appearance at age 6 was worrisome to my parents. Ours was a food-centric family that prided itself on the freshest and most wholesome options available in the hands of fabulous cooks. We drove miles out of our way to buy and preserve produce in season directly from farmers in nearby Pennsylvania Dutch country; got freshly butchered meats from an Amish family that my grandparents had befriended generations ago; bacon came from smokehouses, eggs and chicken from poultry farms at the end of unnamed dirt roads,fresh water we bottled ourselves at natural springs. Anything that wasn’t home- baked came from great sources as well…loaves of hot sourdough rye bread from a local Polish bakery and donuts from a small building behind a neighbor’s home. Milk in glass bottles, butter, cheese and ice cream was delivered directly to the house, as well as cases of beer, soda and Charles Chips and pretzels. Very little was purchased at grocery stores, we came from a very frugal farming family of the 1900’s. It wasn’t until I left home that I realized how special this was, I just assumed everyone ate/shopped this way.
So here I was, rejecting all this wholesome goodness, getting thinner as the years went by. They resorted to forcing me to stay at the table until I “cleaned my plate”..a ritual which lasted until long after dishes were done, homework was handled and the family had been dismissed to watch TV. Green peas were always the very last item to go; I could slip a few to the family dog, but basically, I pushed all 6 or 7 peas around my plate for hours, when they would give up and let me go to bed.
As the years went by, it was my mission to never completely eat anything on that dinner plate, it was my form of personal rebellion. There were traces of every food group that I left behind, and it became a lifelong habit , which was often noticed and pointed out to me by friends and family. It is not just food on the plate, I never really finish anything…a cupcake, bowl of ice cream, small bag of chips, the very last few fries, a piece of bread, the end of a fast food hamburger, even the crust of my favorite pizza. I was having a lovely seafood lunch just last week when the waitress commented on how I didn’t finish the salad or the cheese biscuits, and “did I want a takeout box for the broccoli, potatoes and grilled trout ?”
Maybe I should be grateful for the force feeding of those hideous green veggies. It lead me to a life of being able to maintain a decent adult weight.
Years later on a visit from parents, I served green peas from a stash that I had preserved in my freezer. Once they got over the shock, no one left any behind on their plate.