18 March 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Westboro Baptist Cheese

Dear Food Thoughtz:

I am writing to you to get your thoughtz and insights in to a problem I have. I hate cheese. Not the juvenile, melodramatic and catty “hate” exhibited by many reality TV stars, but the kind of hate usually reserved for the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church.

I’m not entirely sure when my distain for the food started, but it must have been at a very young age. My mother assures me that I once loved cheese and did in fact eat it, but that that changed quite suddenly. 
I only remember hating cheese. I don’t even like the thought of it touching anything I eat, it makes me ill thinking about it. This was especially problematic back before lactose intolerant was an acceptable thing to be in a restaurant. Back when they simply removed the offending item from your dish, rather than bothering to make a whole new one. I hated that. I used to go hungry in restaurants a lot.

Which brings me to the problem: How do you deal with situations in which there is no food you can eat?

Let me give you a scenario from my childhood that seemed a very real possibility at the time:

I grew up in Mexico. Which was great, and I loved it. There were, and still are, two problems in Mexico: (1) their love of cheese, and (2) kidnappings. I don’t think I’m the only one that would put those two at the top of the list— but I digress.

During part of my childhood we lived in a small town, with mostly unpaved or cobble-stone roads. There might have been 1000 people that lived there, so had we lived there for longer, I would have probably started to recognize almost everyone. But because we only lived there briefly, I didn’t know many people, and I didn’t know who’s house was who’s. Not that that is much of a problem in general, it was just that I was young and naive enough to believe what the other kids would tell me. There was this house along the route I took to school. It was rather run down, and looked generally uninhabited. My “friends” said it was the kidnappers house, and would walk a wide distance around the house. I walked by this house every day for months. After a while, the sight of the house and the stories gave rise to a peculiar fear: I wasn’t so much scared of being kidnapped, rather I was terrified that I’d only be fed quesadillas if I was. I was petrified of the possibility.

I don’t know if I can ask what you’d do in this scenario, but after reading you blog, I thought you—of all people—might understand how reasonable this unreasonable fear was.

Kidnapped with Quesadillas

Dear Kidnapped with Quesadillas,

Thank you for your thoughtful question framed in a story that was so enthralling that I totally forgot that there was a question to answer.

First of all, I think that what you've done here is subconsciously recognized an irrational fear of cheese and mapped it onto a (somewhat) rational fear of being kidnapped in order to make sense of it. Although, of course being fed quesadillas would hardly be the most horrific part of being kidnapped. I mean, I get how terrifying food can be sometimes, but I'm currently reading Jerzy Kosinki's The Painted Bird right now, so at this point, force-feeding a child a quesadilla would be a welcome repose to all of the other horrors you could inflict on it.

I have a hard time respecting your predicament because although the vast majority of cheese is revolting, some cheese--notably cheddar (not Coastal Cheddar), mozzarella, parmasan, and those delicious TexMex shredded cheese mixes--are so delicious that I just can't sympathize with your position even though I see a lot of my own food-fears in you. That said, I will try to overlook this so that we can move on.

The question, for those of you who have forgotten it, is how do I deal with situations in which there is no food that I can eat. I guess there are several answers depending on the context. If I was kidnapped and force-fed something, I guess that I would eat that thing and just hope that my fear of the whole kidnapping experience would override my fear of having to eat something that I hate. If I was being force-fed spaghetti squash, I guess I might throw it up (against my will). I think that if I was being held in some sort of room, and food was brought to me but I wasn't forced to eat it, I would probably try to not eat it. My will to live is almost non-existent, so I can't imagine convincing myself to continue eating some gross mush just to live one more miserable day.

Barring any extreme scenarios, if I am in a situation in which there is nothing I can eat, then I don't eat. I'm pretty good at gauging the situation before I get myself into it and planning ahead. If, for some reason, I felt obligated to go to an Ethiopian restaurant, I would obviously know ahead of time that I wouldn't eat anything there, so I would eat before hand. If I found myself in a situation where I thought I would be able to eat something only to discover that there is nothing for me, then I would wait until I could eat something.

Luckily I eat so many staple foods that I think I would be hard-pressed to actually be in a position where I would die if I didn't eat something that I didn't like. Of course there are some foods--spaghetti squash and boiled eggs are two examples--that I could never bring myself to eat no matter what. But there are also slight modifications of food that I already eat that I could probably bring myself to eat if I had to. One time I ate a weird rice dish on a plane.

I don't think I've addressed any of the things that perhaps you expected me to address. My thoughtz on your cheese-hatred is that it's weird to not like cheddar because it's so good, but like, whatever. Keep on hating cheese. Don't eat it. If someone offers you something with cheese on it, you have a few options. You can politely decline and not give a reason. You could politely decline and explain that you don't eat cheese because you hate it. You could show your disgust at their suggestion and then rant about what awful and disgusting people they are and picket their house with "GOD HATES FETA" signs, and when their dog dies tell them that the reason it died is because they are vile sinners and God is punishing them and will continue to punish them and everyone else until we all stop eating cheese. And to be fair, God probably does hate feta, and anyone who continues to flout God's wishes probably does deserve whatever comes to them because feta is disgusting.

Look. Your fear/hatred of cheese is unreasonable. I have a lot of unreasonable fear/hatred of a lot of different foods. If someone was going to make me eat a boiled egg, I would cry. My heart would start pounding and I would start to panic and sweat. I would make a lot of weird noises. I would resort to an all-out temper tantrum to try and get out of it. And at the time I would think that nothing could possibly violate me in a more harmful way than I was being violated at that moment. But their comes a point when you have to take solace in the fact that this is an unreasonable reaction to have to certain kinds of food and in knowing that all you can do is a start a blog that three people will read in the hopes of better understanding yourself. Above all, you can find comfort in the fact that your hatred of cheese is matched by God's hatred of feta and/or fags and that together you will watch the world burn for all of the disgusting things people choose to put into their orifices.

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