23 November 2013

Issues of Consent in Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham"

This summer, while reading bedtime stories to my two-and-half year-old niece, I revisited one of my favourite books from my childhood: Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.  I was pretty fond of Dr. Seuss in general.  At some point I managed to memorize The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and I remember really loving some of the illustrations and colours in Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  But Green Eggs and Ham is probably the story that I enjoyed most, and it was not until this summer that I realized just how troubling it actually is.

The central meaning behind Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham is pretty easy to tease out: you don’t know if you like something until you try it.  (I don’t know if you know this, but I studied English in university).  It’s not the worst message to instil in the minds of young children, but the method by which Dr. Seuss approaches this topic raises several serious concerns about the issue of consent and personal agency.

For any of you who are not familiar with the text, here is a brief summary: Sam-I-Am asks an unnamed character whether he likes green eggs and ham.  The unnamed character politely responds that no, he does not: “I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. / I do not like green eggs and ham.”  Sam-I-Am proceeds to ask the same questions in multiple different ways (“Would you like them here or there?”, “Would you eat them in a box? / Would you eat them with a fox?” etc.) that becoming increasingly threatening, coercive, and violent as the narrative progresses.  When presenting the scenario of eating green eggs and ham in a car, Sam-I-Am shifts from asking to demanding: “Eat them! Eat them! Here they are.”  The unnamed character refuses the green eggs and ham nearly one hundred times.

Not only is Sam-I-Am endangering the lives of those in the car
and the train, but also whoever might be driving that boat.
The story begins with the unnamed character peacefully reading.  Sam-I-Am invades his personal space and begins to ask whether or not he will eat green eggs and ham, and when the unnamed character declines, Sam-I-Am presents increasingly extreme scenarios to pose the same question over and over again.  But Sam-I-Am does more than merely ask whether or not this unnamed character would or could eat green eggs and ham in thirteen different scenarios; he actually puts him in those situations.  These are not hypothetical questions.  When Sam-I-Am asks, “Say! In the dark? Here in the dark! / Would you, could you, in the dark?” he has literally brought the unnamed character into a dark tunnel with him.  Many of these situations actually threaten the safety of the unnamed character and draw attention to the violence and coercion that underscore each one of Sam-I-Am’s questions and demands.  A particularly vivid example is the penultimate scene in which a Sam-I-Am, the unnamed character, a fox, a mouse, and a goat are together in a car—that Sam-I-Am has presumably illegally commandeered—on top of a train that careens off of a cliff and into the sea.

In the end, the unnamed character ultimately does try the green eggs and ham, and he likes them.  He even thanks Sam-I-Am for being so insistent.  But it’s important to point out that he does not try them because he wants to, but out of sheer exasperation: “Sam! If you let me be / I will try them. You will see.”
Here we see the evolution from resigned acceptance of defeat to mistrust and sadness at the reality of having to eat
green eggs and ham, and finally to the relief and jubilation of actually enjoying them.  Even if green eggs and ham
truly were delicious, it seems really unlikely that they still would be after all that Sam-I-Am put that open platter of
food through.  There's no way that that food didn't get wet when they crashed into the ocean, not to mention that
they're obviously cold by now. 

What troubling precedent does this narrative present to young readers?  What are the ramifications of such a story?  Why is it Sam-I-Am who is praised in the end for being so insistent?  Are we left with the impression that the unnamed character was too uptight, that he should have tried green eggs and ham sooner, and that this is all his fault?  And why does he have no name throughout the entire narrative?  Why is Sam-I-Am given an identity through naming that is denied to the other character?  How does this technique influence our sympathies?

Sam-I-Am, from the very beginning, is given a name, and implicit in his name is his own power to name himself.  At times the unnamed character refers to him as Sam, but the “I-Am” portion is also built into his name.  Sam is the first character we are introduced to in the story, and we are introduced to him by Sam speaking his own name.  This signals to Sam’s assertion of his subjectivity.  It is also worth noting that the name “Sam” is a very generic one, which serves to reinforce a sense of normalcy in Sam’s character.

These elements, taken together, contribute to some of the issues surrounding consent in the narrative.  Sam-I-Am is given a level of authority and power that is denied to the unnamed character.  This is demonstrated not only by his name and ability to name himself, but also the way by which he does so: he rides in to the scene on some cat-like beast, which highlights an ongoing trend in Sam's character to assert his dominance over others.

Issues of consent are often talked about in the context of medical ethics.  The general idea is that patients should have at least some control over their own care.  A patient's preference should be consistent over time and across multiple scenarios.  In "The Green Eggs and Ham Phenomena," Lachlan Forrow uses the Dr. Seuss text to question what he perceives to be an oversimplification of patient preference:
"There are three important lessons in this story.  First, although the Patient [the unnamed character] unequivocally states his preference seventy times in thirteen different scenarios, it becomes clear at the end of the story that the Patient has never known what green eggs and ham are like.  The fact that a patient can express a preference with utter consistency does not tell us anything about whether or not she or he understands what is at stake in the choice.

Second, the story makes it clear that the very process of being asked to provide a response, then reaffirm it over and over and over, leads the Patient to express a stronger and stronger sense of certainty about his preference.  Even if the Patient had started off somewhat uncertain about his preference, by late in the story he is absolutely clear and convinced in his own mind.


Why is the Patient in this story so ready to reject the offer of green eggs and ham from Dr. Sam-I-Am?  Why is he refusing something he seems to know nothing about?

The answer to that is clear in the opening pages of the book.  There, Dr. Sam-I-Am is seen racing back and forth around the Patient, clearly very busy, but paying no attention to the Patient himself.  In fact, unlike almost any other important character in Dr. Seuss' many books, the Patient is never given a name.  And Dr. Sam-I-Am certainly never gives any indication that he even cares to know this patient's name.  The opening words in the story, spoken by the Patient, are quite direct: 'That Sam-I-Am! That Sam-I-Am! I do not like that Sam-I-Am!'  In fact, the entire story as seen from the Patient's perspective has nothing whatsoever to do with his opinion of green eggs and ham (remember, he has never tasted them), but has everything to do with his relationship--or lack thereof--with the person who is offering them to him." (30-1).
Okay, Lachlan Farrow.  First of all, it's not necessary to have tried something in order to know whether or not you like it; having not tried something does not preclude the possibility of making informed decisions about it.  There are any number of ways to gather information on a given subject without having it in your mouth first.  For example, I haven't "tried" AIDS, but I know that I don't like it.  Secondly, it's not necessarily explicit in the text that the unnamed character has never tried green eggs and ham.  It's possible to infer that he hasn't, but he does not once state explicitly that he has never eaten them before.  His first refusal is simply, "I do not like them, Sam-I-Am. / I do not like green eggs and ham."  Thirdly, Farrow might be correct in stating that the unnamed character's refusal to eat green eggs and ham is influenced by his dislike of Sam-I-Am, but that's a totally valid reason to not try something.  Sam-I-Am is a self-centred asshole, and there's no reason to believe that he has the unnamed character's best interests at heart.  After all, we're talking about green eggs and ham, not medicine, and Sam-I-Am isn't held to an ethical code in the same way doctors areAnd just as a final note: it's likely that the ham and eggs are green partly to appeal to the market audience (children), but also for poetic reasons.  That said, I am probably one of the few people who really enjoys artificial colouring, but even I wouldn't eat that (obviously not the eggs, but not the ham either).

Green Eggs and Ham is, in the end, a story for children.  But what message does it provide them?  That you can't possibly know your own likes and dislikes, or that someone other than you has a better sense of your own needs and desires?  That you should give up your power of consent to anyone who asks you to do so?  Or more troubling yet, if someone says "no" to you, all you have to do is pester them and threaten them until they give in?  At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter why the unnamed character doesn't want to eat green eggs and ham and it doesn't matter that he ends up liking green eggs and ham.  What matters is that he doesn't want to eat green eggs and ham.  In order to build a healthy society--one that doesn't privilege the desires of some over those of others--we need to begin by empowering children to say "no."

I feel a bit weird posting something like this, because I really don't care about empowering anyone, ever.  But I do feel strongly about this, and not as an analogy for rape culture or medical ethics or the unnamed "Other" or whatever.  As someone who has spent a great deal of time over the course of her life refusing to try certain foods in the face of incessant harassment, I find it troubling that a book like this exists.  And what I also find troubling is that people's notion of consent only goes so far.  There are a few posts on the internet condemning Dr. Seuss's treatment of consent in Green Eggs and Ham (here and here), but both talk about the text in light of rape culture.  I feel like most people don't take the right of consent seriously when it comes to something as seemingly frivolous or harmless as trying new foods.  But for me, feeling the pressure to eat something that I really do not want to eat is actually traumatic, and right after I finish posting this, I'm going to start a petition on Change.org to demand that a big shiny "Trigger Warning!" sticker be included on all future copies of this book.

Forrow, Lachlan.  "The green eggs and ham phenomena."  The Hastings Center Report 24.6 (1994): 29-32.  Print.

21 November 2013

Review: What is going on in The Kitchn's "How to Bake a Potato: Three Easy Methods"?

Before we begin, I suggest all of you go and familiarize yourself with the text.  This gem was sent in by a loyal reader and has since become one of my favourite food-related posts on the entire internet.  I also want to point out that the post we will be looking at is "How to Bake a Potato: Three Easy Methods," not to be confused with "How to Bake a Potato in the Oven."

This article grabbed me from the very first line: "As long as there are a few potatoes in the pantry, I know that I have at least one option for dinner.Let's give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that "the pantry" she is referring to is her pantry, but a more general statement that gets the same idea across could be: "As long as there is food in the house, I know that I can eat it" or "As long as there is air in the atmosphere, I know that I can breathe it."  Like, of course you can eat those potatoes. And you have so many options (I covered a lot of them in my potato post), so don't just limit yourself to baked potatoes!

But she has limited herself to baked potatoes.  The purpose of the article is to educate the reader on all the different ways to bake a potato. There are three (and a half):

1) You can bake a potato in an oven.

1.5) Same idea, but this time wrap the potatoes in tinfoil (hot tip: before you put them in the oven)

2) You can "bake" a potato in the microwave.

3) You can bake a potato throughout the course of the entire day in a slow-cooker while you're at work instead of just coming home and using methods 1, 1.5, or 2.

For each method the author includes brief instructions for how you might go about baking that potato, but if you find yourself struggling with methods 1 and 1.5, don't worry: there's a whole separate post on how to bake a potato in the oven.

This article is obviously ridiculous because everyone already knows how to bake a potato.  Or, if they don't, they can probably figure it out.  I mean, the people who are going to want to bake a potato are already aware that baking a potato is something that can be done.  If you are aware of the possibility of baking a potato, then the only question you have to ask yourself is what item in your house is capable of baking something and go from there!  The other major drawback of this post is that it doesn't talk about any of the ways that you can experiment with baking a potato.  Potato squashers immediately come to mind, but she also overlooked simply slicing up potatoes in a pan and putting them in the oven.  The latter method is sometimes referred to as "roasting," but because I typically use the convection bake setting on the oven, I count it as baking a potato.

The world is a sad, bleak place, everyone.  If anyone is still confused, here's a helpful gif:

potato on Make A Gif
Step 1: Grab a potato from your pantry or from a bag on the floor
Step 2: Admire it on the counter for a minute. You might also puncture it
with a fork at this point.
Step 3: Make sure the oven is on.
Step 4: Put the potato in the oven.

20 November 2013

Frosted Mini-Wheats Cereal

This is probably the highest level of
frosting I've ever seen on a Mini-Wheat.
I used to eat this cereal quite a bit when I was younger, but then one day I stopped and to this day I am not entirely sure why.  Prompted by a reader’s recent comment on the Lucky Charms post, I decided to investigate the matter further and I bought a box of Kellog's Mini-Wheats cereal (the frosted kind).

Like most other cereals, I used to eat these without milk.  I would typically skin the frosting off with my teeth before tackling the wheat square.  This is probably because there’s so little frosting for so much wheat that it seemed like a waste to not savour the frosting in some way.  The wheat squares were usually pretty difficult to swallow on their own because they’re so dry, but I was never driven to trying them with milk.

Until last night.
In hindsight, one of the reasons that I may have abandoned mini-wheats cereal is because they actually were pretty difficult to eat and always scratched at my throat on the way down.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is not the case when eaten with milk, but I still don’t think I’ll be reintroducing them into my diet any time soon.  I mean, they were okay, but they were just okay.  Eating them seemed more like a necessary chore than an enjoyable pass time.  Even though the frosting ratio is really hit or miss with mini-wheats (someone should really talk to quality control about that because it's been a problem for forever), it was definitely less of an issue with milk than it is if they’re plain.

I guess Kellogg's recently re-branded
Mini-Wheats, and the result is
even worse than the original.
I also always found the mascot to be kind of lazy.  Lucky Charms has Lucky, Trix has the rabbit, Froot Loops has Toucan Sam, Honey-Nut Cheerios has the bee, Cap'n Crunch as the Captain... And Mini-Wheats has... what?  A wheat-square with a cartoon face slapped on it?  C'mon, Kellogg's.  Does that mascot even have a name? Lazy, lazy, lazy.

Of course I'm still going to finish off the box.  They're perfectly fine to eat, but I guess what I'm realizing is that with so many other cereals out there, these just aren't worth the effort or the cost.

I used to eat mini-wheats, but then I ceased;
They were never really a food worth the feast.

19 November 2013


I was reluctant to write this post at all because, as of yet, I have seen no convincing evidence that okra is even a food.  If I had to hazard a guess, I would say it is the cocoon belonging to a particularly frightening moth.  And then I google imaged it, just to be sure, and saw the cross-section slices.  For I moment I thought that perhaps it truly is a food, but upon examining the image closer with a well-trained eye, I realized they were just freeze-dried slices of cucumber.
If people are actually eating this—and I can’t in good conscious suggest that you do, because what you’re eating is a disgusting pupa and that silk encasement probably has better uses, like my future pyjamas—please don’t tell me about it.  I don’t need to know what disgusting activities you engage in.

I hate when people say that they really love okra
Because it always sounds so hopelessly bourgeois.
But it has another, much more tragic flaw:
It's actually the temporary home of a moth

So it's not really something on which you should gnaw.
Wouldn't you rather have some fine silken cloth?

17 November 2013

The Oyster

One thing I’ve learned about myself over the past twenty-six years is that life—or at least my life—will never be worth the kinds of struggles that are sometimes asked of us and that I do not have a survival instinct.

Have you ever wondered about how we’ve learned that certain foods are okay to eat and that some are not?  I mean, trial and error, I guess.  But have you ever wondered about what kind of person is desperate enough for food that they’re willing to scrape an oyster up off the ocean floor, hold that craggy mound in their hand, smash it against a rock, and then slurp out whatever is inside?  And then, once they’ve done it and realized it didn’t kill them, just do it again for pleasure?  Because if I was ever in the situation where I was stranded by the sea with nothing to eat and I had absolutely no knowledge of what I could eat, I don’t think I’d be going for what I have always equated with the ocean’s waste.  Or even if I did know what I could eat, and I knew that one of those things was an oyster, I think I would just say no thank you, because no matter how hard or painful it may be to die of starvation, I know in my heart of hearts that it hasn’t got anything on trying to swallow a moist, fleshy mass that lives on the ocean floor all day and filters seawater.  Also, I wouldn’t say “thank you,” because being offered an oyster is not something to be thankful for.

My hatred and disgust of oysters might be linked to my mistrust and fear of the ocean.  The question of what I would do if I was on a sinking ship has been asked of me a surprising number of times, and when someone for some reason fails to ask me this question, I will often volunteer the answer because I think it really speaks to the kind of person I am.  The answer is that I would kill myself.  Immediately.  Even if there was a 99% chance of being saved, I would kill myself before I hit the water.  Even if there was a 100% chance of being saved but it meant spending even 30minutes in the ocean, I would kill myself.  Because I can’t think of anything worse than spending time out in the middle of the ocean, hoping that someone would eventually rescue me and risk being brushed up against by a giant squid or nibbled at by some fish.

You guys! Here I am, making gifs! I
probably could have come up with
something more oyster related, but
frankly, oysters aren't really the most
gif-able creatures.
The possibility of actually dying in the ocean and having my water-logged corpse slowly float to the ocean floor while various sea creatures nibble at my decaying flesh that is waving openly in the ocean’s salty depths like so many anemone fingers swaying in a current is abhorrent.  Of course, if I killed myself on a boat I would still meet the same fate.  I am hopeful that adrenaline would take over and I wouldn’t have time to think about it before I died, whereas if I was bobbing around in the ocean, I would be forced to confront what would happen to me after I died.

It’s seems unnecessary to now talk about whether or not I would ever eat one of these briny pockets of phlegm.  The answer is no.  Like, absolutely never.  Remember when I just said that I would commit suicide if I was on a sinking ship?  I think I might actually do the same if I was faced with eating an oyster.  Sometimes when I watch movies or tv shows that have torture scenes, and there’s always someone jamming a sharp object under another person’s fingernails or branding them or whatever, I always take a minute to pray that 1) I will never be the victim of torture, or 2) that whoever is torturing me will not find out about how I feel about oysters, because nothing would pain me more than having to eat an oyster.  Which is why I am writing it down on this blog right now (because I can be certain that absolutely no one will read it).

Maybe I don’t have any authority on what an oyster tastes like, but what I do know is that oysters are nothing more than a small blobs of flesh that live in  gnarled, knobbly shells, and that they do little more than filter sea water all day.  I’m going to go ahead and assume that they taste like the ocean at low-tide.  But an ocean taste that is palpable and fleshy.  And that some people willingly eat, probably because they are perverted and deeply disturbed masochists. 
Here's me, crying amongst an oyster bed because that is the only way I would know how to respond to being
surrounded by so many oysters. Plus, I bet it smells so, so bad there.
There’s probably a way to prepare oysters so that they don’t taste like oysters.  Sometimes I think that developing new ways to flavour otherwise disgusting objects would be a worthwhile endeavour.  Like maybe someday someone will develop a new flavour for charcoal.  The texture of charcoal kind of appeals to me because it reminds me of Lucky Charms marshmallows.  But why would you drown out the original flavour of something that by nature has a disgusting and vile texture only to make it more palatable?  It seems like marinating oysters in (garlic?) butter is probably a thing, but whatever you use to mask the taste, you still have to deal with getting that oyster to go down your throat.  The texture is probably the biggest obstacle for me when it comes to oysters (maybe just after my moral aversion to the sea).  You know how sometimes you accidentally swallow a half-congealed blood clot or a particularly viscous clump of mucus?  That's the only thing that I can think of that might be remotely similar to eating an oyster, but I bet an oyster tastes a whole lot worse.

The practice of eating oyster is also really crude.  I don’t know what it is about seafood that makes everyone abandon their etiquette rules, but it’s disgusting.  Are these people actually just bringing a shell to their mouth and then slurping a slab of fleshy muscle down their throat?  Those people are barbaric monsters and they need to stop it.

I typically try to refrain from learning anything about whatever it is I’m writing about because I think that these blog posts should reflect my impressions of food as closely as is possible without being coloured from outside sources.  (This is a general rule that extends to academia as well.)  But I just googled oysters and I learned two things:
  1. They look like a slug somehow managed to get inside of a small, cramped, moist space and then died. And then rotted.  I used to spend entire days collecting slugs only to throw them into the ocean.  I guess now we know what happened to them all.
  2. There is more than one kind of oyster!  Apparently people don’t eat oysters that produce pearls, but I don’t understand why not.  Those pearl-producing oysters are so stupid and deserve to be eaten (even though eating any oyster is a crime against humanity, or at least a crime against my humanity).  If some little grain of sand found its way into my body, I would try to either eject it or absorb it fully.  Probably the last thing I would do is build a larger casing around it.  
For any of you seriously committed to eating oysters, let me just close on this note.  Obsessively worrying about dying in the ocean has convinced me that one day I probably will die in the ocean.  And all those little bits of flesh that are nibbled at by fish and pooped out, and all those little flags of tissue that pull away from the bone and drift through the open water... Those are the things that get filtered through oysters. I mean, probably. I don't know what else oysters eat if they don't just filter sea water.  And my dying wish is that some of my hatred will be bound to those miniscule pieces of fish poo composed of my digested tissue and those little flaps of water-logged corpse-flesh, and that you will spend the rest of your days full of self-loathing and disgust because that it what you deserve.

Finally, here's a quote from Tobias Smollett's The Expedition of Humphry Clinker:

“Of the fish I need say nothing in this hot weather, but that it comes sixty, seventy, fourscore, and a hundred miles by land carriage; a circumstance sufficient, without any comment, to turn a Dutchman’s stomach, even if his nose was not saluted in every alley with the sweet flavor of fresh mackerel, selling by retail. This is not the season for oysters; nevertheless, it may not be amiss to mention that the right Colchester are kept in slime pits, occasionally overflowed by the sea—and that the green color, so much admired by the voluptuaries of this metropolis, is occasioned by the vitriolic scum which rises on the surface of the stagnant and stinking water.”
None of us will ever read this book, but Smollett has a point. 

I’ve never understood why eating an oyster is a privilege to flaunt
Because if the world is my oyster, it’s not a world that I want. 

These people brag about how eating oyster is a sign of refined taste
But what they're slurping down their throat 
is nothing more than discarded sea waste.

15 November 2013

The Future is Now

Today I learned what a gif is and how to make one.  I also learned about the lovestruck feature in PhotoBooth.  Clearly I am not very good at making gifs, but sometimes the first step towards success is failure.

14 November 2013

Lucky Charms

I have always loved Lucky Charms cereal — presumably just like every other child always has because it’s not even cereal, just marshmallows and sugar-coated crunchy-pieces that pay lip-service to the idea of “cereal.” When I would have a bowl of Lucky Charms, I would spend twenty minutes painstakingly picking out and eating the cereal bits until I was left with a bowl of marshmallows. The appeal of eating the marshmallows on their own has always been that the marshmallows are firm in their structure, but offer no resistance when you bite into them. There has always been a bit of a thrill in biting a marshmallow and half, and then examining its cross-section. Sometimes I would put a marshmallow—usually a red balloon, because they were my favourite—in my mouth and suck on it until it disintegrated. It’s a different experience than letting chocolate or a popsicle melt in your mouth because you can actually feel individual bits of sugar coming loose from the balloon until nothing is left. These two approaches to eating the marshmallows is contingent on their dryness.
Here's a screenshot of a picture I uploaded to Instagram of the first bowl of Lucky Charms that I ate after buying the
box, including a caption lambasting all of the fools who have eaten Lucky Charms with milk.

Here's a picture of what's left after
picking out the cereal bits.
One time, I think in the summer of 2006, I spent an entire day eating all of the cereal bits so that I could make a ball of all of the marshmallows in a single box of Lucky Charms and bite into it like an apple. It once occurred to me that I should just pick out the marshmallows and throw out the rest, but I realized that one of the best parts is the delayed satisfaction of eating all of those marshmallows all at once. This method of eating Lucky Charms taught me that if you work hard for something, the payoff will be that much sweeter than if you just go straight for the reward. For the record, I have not carried this life philosophy over to any other aspect of my life.

I typically always ate cold cereal dry. Rice Krispies is probably the only cold cereal that I consistently ate with milk (always with sliced up banana and a bit of sugar), and to this day, I have never had Cheerios, Golden Grahams, or Honeycomb cereal in milk. The thought of cereal and milk never disgusted me, but I was always certain that it would take away some crucial element from the cereal. I thought of it as a practice that was widely accepted, but never closely examined. I have always thought that cereal is best when it’s crunchy and that its crunchiness was central to its very identity. While I had often entertained the idea of eating my cereal in milk, I never did because I have always been a firm believer in sticking with what you know and what you know you like. Even if something turns out to be not bad, why waste that one experience when you know for sure that it could be as good as it has always been? For the record, this is a life philosophy that I have carried over to every other aspect of my life.

You can tell this is a store brand cereal
because the flakes are a much lower
quality than I have come to expect
from the branded cereals.
Things began to change when I went to Europe—the land of self-discovery—in 2005. I bought an 8€ box of Special K Red Berries and I had it with milk. Although I had had Special K Red Berries without milk in the past and really enjoyed eating those dried strawberries, after having a bite of my friend’s cereal, I realized that the strawberries only improved when they were soaked in milk and had the opportunity to soften up a bit. It was also around this time that I made the crucial switch from skim milk to homo, and while I still prefer skim milk for drinking, homo really is the best when it comes to cereal or milk in your coffee. The next cereal I tried in milk was something like NesQuik. It went over really well because on one hand, it turns the milk into chocolate milk, and on the other hand, those chocolate balls were always too dense and too hard to really enjoy. The milk softened them up an appropriate amount.

Ever since, I have been on a bit of a cereal-with-milk tear. As I mentioned, I still eat cereals like Golden Grahams and Cheerios without milk, but I’ve introduced a lot of new and exciting cereals into my repertoire as well—all of which I eat with milk. Over the past few years, I’ve really gotten into Kashi, Vector, Raisin Bran and any cereal that has dried berries in it (Jordans Morning Crisp, Honey Bunches of Oats with Strawberries, or the store-brand take on Special K Red Berries).

Lucky Charms is something that I’ve eaten less and less of over the years. Every once in a while it will go on sale so I’ll pick up a box, but in general, it’s just not a part of my diet anymore. There are probably a few reasons for this. Part of it has to do with how expensive it is, but more importantly, having a bowl of dry cereal has always been a mindless snacking activity for me. I eat it when I am watching tv or doing school work. I don’t want to have to focus on what it is I’m eating, and Lucky Charms is a cereal that, if you’re eating it dry, you have to give it your full attention. So it came as a bit of surprise to me when I picked up a box at Metro the other day (it was on sale for $2.99, down from the usual $5.50), but I was really excited to tuck into it.

At first I ate it as I always have. I poured a bowl, painstakingly picked out and ate the cereal bits, spent some time appreciating the beauty of all the colourful marshmallows alone in the bowl, and then gobbled them up. R was in the kitchen with me at the time and mentioned that his parents would never buy him Lucky Charms, but that sometimes his grandmother would. When I said that I never eat them with milk, he said that he had always enjoyed them with milk and that he would try to eat the cereal bits first because they were best when crunchy, but that the marshmallows really improved when saturated in milk.
On the cusp of trying something new. I regret getting rid of that box
because I could really use a new toque right now.
And then something happened. I don’t know what. I wanted to try it. I poured myself another bowl, added milk, and prepared for the worst. My main concern was that I would have less control over the cereal once it was sloshing around in a bowl of milk. I wouldn’t be able to pick out the cereal bits very easily, and I knew that I would inevitably miss some. I knew, going into it, that there would be times when I would have to eat spoonfuls that contained both cereal and marshmallow, and although I wasn’t thrilled by the idea, something—some force outside myself—urged me on. It will probably come as no surprise that I liked it. I really liked it. I’m still not sure if I like it more than having it dry, but I do like it. I liked it enough to rush out and buy another box to do the whole thing over again.
Something changed in me that day. It wasn’t life altering, but more like a little sliver of doubt entering my consciousness. I was so sure about Lucky Charms. So sure. I knew how I liked it; I was so certain that it could never be better. I’m not sure that it is better, but I think it’s probably just as good. My approach to food has always been premised on a strict hierarchical system. There is a very small group of food that I like, and within that group, I have always been adamant that there is a singular best way to enjoy that food. Potatoes are best fried; pasta is best with bolognese; broccoli and cauliflower are best with cheese. There are, of course, other ways I will eat these foods. I like potatoes baked in an oven or mashed, and I like pasta with either just cheese or sometimes just butter, and I like broccoli and cauliflower steamed plain or with butter, or sometimes even raw. But there is always, always, a “best” way to enjoy these foods. What’s different about Lucky Charms is that I’m worried that I like them with milk as much as I like them plain.

What does that mean for me and my diet? What if postmodernist theory was right? What if there is no such thing as a singular truth? That it’s all a construction? That there’s more than one approach to something, and that one is not necessarily more valuable than another? It’s an exciting time in my life right now, but also frightening. Does my experience with Lucky Charms gesture towards a flattening out of my diet, a horizontal expansion that knows no bounds? And where will I go from here? How will I ever approach a box of Lucky Charms ever again? How will I know how to eat it? How can I ever be certain of what I want ever again? The future is marred by uncertainty, and I have never been more afraid in my entire life.
Ever since it happened, news has spread like wildfire throughout Toronto.

I've approached my diet with unflinching certainty:
Confidence in my taste is central to my identity.
To experiment with food was an impossibility,
And Lucky Charms with milk was an incomprehensibility.

That I liked it suggests potential dietary malleability,
And more frighteningly yet, that singular truth is a fragility. 
What if trying new things is within my capability?
Does this signal towards a new versatility?