Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes on a Food Purist

And so it began with a simple question. “Would you like some strawberry crisps?”

He says, “No thanks. I don’t like dried fruit."

She says, "They’re not dried fruit. They’re granola crisps."

He says, “I generally don’t like things called ‘crisps.’”

She says, “Just try one. They’re made with ancient grains, spelt, quinoa and uh, a-ma-ranth. Says right here on the bag it 'contains vitamin E and is good for the circulatory system.' You don’t like cold feet. Come on. Try one.”

He takes the tiniest nibble. “Too sweet.”

She says, “But it doesn’t have any high fructose … it’s a whole grain … oh, forget it.”

You could say I was forewarned that food would be an issue with my husband. While we were email courting, he bragged that he ate everything from “Albacore to Zucchini.”

Who brags about the variety of foods they eat, I thought? People who have been accused of overly selective eating habits. That’s who.

When it comes to eating, my husband doesn’t just have likes and dislikes. Well all have those. He has (an ever-growing list of) rules.

Don’t mix things that shouldn’t be mixed. Like adding buttered corn on top of mashed potatoes. (Yum.) Succotash is a big problem.

Sweet is sweet. Savory is savory. He wants to keep it that way. Sweet potatoes? Not his thing. And the whole honey-mustard combination disturbs him. Luckily, I don't have to deal with the conundrum of serving duck topped with a fruit compote or a ham with pineapple glaze because he’s a lacto-ovo pescetarian.

No fake meat. When I made vegetarian stuffed peppers, I told him I used wheat gluten flavored with oregano which I knew would be oddly more appetizing to him than "vegetarian sausage." And he doesn't want to actually see the vegetables that make up his veggie burger.

Only black beans. You'd think a lacto-ovo pescetarian would love beans. But I can’t ply him with a great northern, garbanzo, kidney, cannelloni or lima bean to save my life. He says he eats pinto but I've never actually seen this occur.

Sushi is a nighttime food. End of discussion. Dim sum brunch? I do that with other people.

If you like something at a restaurant, it’s a waste of time, not to mention risky, ordering anything else. I could even order for him at a restaurant we’ve never been to before.

If a salad contains vegetables, they are to be eaten first. Nuts and fruit on a salad shakes his belief system to its very core. Which is fine because he's allergic to nuts. (And onions.) And easy on the romaine. When I make a caprese salad, I make two: one for him undressed and one for me with olive oil, salt and pepper, the way they do in Italy and on Wikipedia.

Finish one thing on the plate completely before moving on to something else.

The size of freshly ground pepper shouldn’t be too big. “Why do people on these cooking shows always season everything with salt and pepper?” he wonders aloud as we watch the Food Network.

No eggplant. My beloved eggplant makes his mouth itch.

Biscotti? Nope. He doesn’t like the name. On that note, he refuses to say anything in a semi-French accent. So, he’ll eat a crepe, but call it a thin pancake.

Nothing with any hydrogenated ingredients. Ever. Goodbye Little Debbie. And all things Hostess.

And I truly think if were practical to set up a non-profit organization whose sole mission was to save carrot cake from walnuts, raisins and pineapple, he would.

Funny thing is, he’s not a health nut. Loves candy. Booze. Chips and ice cream. He just likes to keep food simple. And that can really complicate things.