Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
I cannot recall any favorite meal from my childhood, or how could I, when I was one of those difficult kids who didn’t like to eat a lot!
If I had been asked about my most hated medicines, I could write over thousand words. I wasn’t a healthy kid. My lungs were my weak spot, and I often had bronchitis. Besides, I developed a kidneys’ sickness. Perhaps because of it, I may have lost my appetite.
However my parents tried, I refused to eat. My mother was very sweet, patient and understanding, so I found ways to go around her. My father though had a more incisive way to approach what he called disobedience: no talk and orders.
His method was pretty simple. If I had not eaten what was on the plate, I could not leave the table until everything was over. I spent many hours looking at meals and not touching them. I would even sleep there, resting my head on the table. Eventually he would lose his temper and threaten to beat me, and that would serve as a wake up call. I would eat cold meals as fast as he wanted. I never won the battle against him but kept resisting his orders endlessly.
This pattern of behavior never really changed between us throughout adolescence and early adulthood. I don’t mean that I had an eating disorder, because that was not the case. It was more about the fact that he was an authoritarian man, who liked to be obeyed and never questioned.
Very early on I identified my disgust towards his ‘educational’ methods. I would strike back with questioning and confrontations, which were not ever welcome. His reactions only served to make me even more defying.
While I was afraid of my father, I wasn’t afraid of inquiring on the inefficiency and unfairness of his methods. Asking him logical and rational questions felt like safe. He didn’t agree on that and took my reasoning as a provocation, which needed correction.
I didn’t surrender to his will but to my self-convincing logic, that eating more would be good for my health. I certainly didn’t eat because he wanted me to, but because I became healthier and hungrier.
They might have become traumatized with my recurring health issues, because they were never satisfied with my weight and wanted me to eat more. If they hadn’t one, I perhaps had a trauma and aversion for too much food, for their insisting behavior. That put me off from food.
But all of sudden there was a turn of fate. When I was around thirteen, I joined my eldest brothers and friends in a full-day hike. They were ill prepared; they didn’t bring food and water. They may have thought I wouldn’t need it anyways and may have eaten it all by themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised as they could be mean to their little sister.
After a full day hiking, I was starving as I had never been before, up to that point in my life. I was eager to get home, and eat! I rushed to the kitchen to check what was in the menu that evening. My brothers and parents looked at me in disbelief. They may have thought I was mocking them.
I had to shower first, what made me feel even weaker and hungrier. I was the first to sit at the dinner table. It was a lively evening, as my brothers invited their friends for dinner as well. I worried that they would eat too much and would not leave enough for me. To tackle this problem, and contrary to my usual behavior, I prepared a plate so big that could be measured in height and weight.
Everyone was staring at me as if I had come straight from Mars. It was a total shock when they realized that I ate very fast and left nothing on the plate to say the story of my food.
To this date, I can still remember that I had a simple beef stew with carrots and potatoes, as well as rice. Even now I can feel how delicious it tasted. It was the best food I have ever had.
I still wonder if that was a plot between my parents and siblings!