17 November 2012

The Salad - pt. II

After reading the previous post, it may shock you to learn that I have actually tried a salad before, and that I did so entirely of my own volition.

It all happened in January, 2010, while I was wintering in southern France (I will never get tired of that phrase). I was staying at a beautiful and totally self-sufficient hostel, and I even had my own private room. Few people realise that when I jokingly say that I travel in order to find myself that I'm not entirely joking. I often do travel with a specific purpose in mind. I will recognize a certain obstacle in my life and go on an elaborate trip to try and remove that obstacle from my life in the privacy that anonymous travel provides. I went to Central America with the intention of learning how to dance and to read Moby Dick. (I only accomplished one of those things and it remains one of the greatest regrets of my life. I mean that completing Moby Dick is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I never learned how to dance. I guess I regret that too, but not as much.)

Before I went to Europe in late 2009, my restricted diet was really starting to weigh on me. It seemed impossible that I would ever be able to become the person I wanted to if I continued to refuse to try new foods. At the time, I foolishly wanted to be a person who could go to dinner parties and eat like a normal person. I wanted to be able to one day own cook books. I wanted to have cupboards full of ingredients and I wanted a spice rack that would hold more than just salt and pepper (adding pepper to foods is actually still pretty new to me, so at the time it would have been just salt). My time at the hostel in Nice seemed like a perfect opportunity to branch out and explore new things. I had ordered several dishes of spaghetti bolognese at the hostel before, and knowing that it came with a side of green salad, I always asked for no salad. But then one night, I didn't. I'm still not sure if I simply forgot or if I purposely forgot or if my subconscious desire for a normal life was dragging me toward that salad and forcing me to confront it. But in any case, my spaghetti arrived, and sure enough there was a green salad on the side.
This is the picture that accompanied my thoughtful expose that appeared
in a certain publication that shall not be named.
I stared at it for a long time. I considered the person I had become and questioned whether or not I wanted to continue on this path of extreme food avoidance. And then, I just stopped. I stopped thinking about what eating this salad would mean; I stopped wondering how much I would hate it once that lettuce was in my mouth; I stopped thinking about the exact amount of time it would take before the taste and all remnants of that salad would be washed away by the pasta. And I just ... took a bite of the salad. And I swallowed it. And I hated it.

But you know what trying that salad taught me? That I never ever have to try a new food ever again because if I already know that I hate it, then I hate it. It taught me to put faith in my own judgment and my ability to know myself. It taught me that I don't have to own cookbooks or cumin--or even know what cumin is--in order to live and happy and full life. And it also taught me the importance of ordering a dish without a side of salad, because I'm pretty sure you get more spaghetti that way.

Stop trying to find yourself, you'll only prove to be a fool
And the process by which you try must necessarily be cruel.
If you know you don't like something, then please don't tempt fate--
What was once cold indifference will become solidified hate. 

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