Six year old: Daddy, this is a hard decision for me, whether I like you best or chocolate.
Ever since we first moved in together, my wife has been trying to change what I eat. It started fairly innocuously – she decided that three sugars in a cup of teas was three too many – so she reduced the amount of sugar in my tea first to two spoonfuls and then to one. This was quite nice, I thought, she’s looking after my best interests and I don’t really miss all that sugar. Little did I know what a dangerous precedent she had set.
You see, although I don’t believe in generalisations, every woman looks at their long-term partner as a work in progress. They do not marry us because they are happy with how we are, but view us as a rough piece of clay from which they hope to mould the perfect partner. I eventually realised what was happening and have successfully staged a small rebellion, refusing to move from one sugar to none. This is not because I don’t like the taste, but because it allows me to reassert my free will*. It’s the little things….
Over time I have learnt that there are two types of food: those that it is OK to dislike, and those I dislike. For example, I am not a great fan of most vegetables. Just a hint of carrot makes me feel sick and don’t even get me started on cabbage or broccoli, yet this, apparently is wrong. It’s not that these foods are disgusting/repulsive/put on this earth by the devil to torment me, apparently I am being fussy (and despite there being scientific evidence to support my position.) My wife, however, dislikes ice-cream and any form of beans,which is clearly normal. She used to dislike bananas and for years these were also on the list of foods to dislike. Then she tried one. Now they are on the approved list. There is no scientific evidence to back up my wife, other than the fact she has a scientific background and therefore her views are scientific evidence.
The one area where this battle of wills really comes to a head is the barbecue. Summers here in England can be relatively brief, so every chance I get I offer to cook a barbecue. There are two reasons for this.
- Burgers are my favourite food**
- I get to choose what we eat.
When I think of a barbecue it consists mostly of platefuls of meat and the odd bread roll to mop up the juices. This is, apparently, also wrong. After coming home with the minced beef to make burgers, some sausages, ribs, burger buns, relishes, mustard and ketchup; the first I question I’m asked is: “What about the salad?” You see, when my wife thinks of a barbecue she sees bowls of fresh salad, coleslaw, potato salad, assorted breads, a variety of salad dressings, plus somethings barbecued, preferably kebabs that consist of large hunks of vegetables and the odd piece of chicken, which are impossible to cook without burning the vegetables and the stick whilst leaving the chicken hazardous to your health. So we compromise by me going back to the shop and buying salad stuff.
At the barbecue itself, timing is everything. I like to cook the food so everything is available at the same time. If I don’t, my wife will helpfully offer to get me a plate of something to eat while I cook. This a sausage, some coleslaw (don’t get me started on the evils of coleslaw) and lots of garnish.
I remember at one barbecue, having cooked everything on time and to perfection, my wife glanced over to my plate and said “you’ve forgotten your salad.” This was clearly unfair as I had a very large portion of potato salad alongside my two burgers, sausages and ribs. Undaunted by the logic of my argument (if it’s not salad, why does it have salad in its name?), my wife insisted on putting some extra salad on my plate.Now, I could refuse the salad as an infringement of my right to choose to eat what I damned well please, but I don’t because my wife has cunningly decided to have the whole conversation in front of the children.
She has out foxed me once again. I can’t show my hatred of vegetables in front of the children because then they would refuse to eat them. Therefore, every meal has to contain some form of vegetable or salad, otherwise the children would end up dying of scurvy, rickets or some other dietary disease I managed to avoid during my lifetime. It is OK, though, to pick the kidney beans out of a chilli in front of the kids, as nobody died of kidney bean failure.
Eventually, I’m full, but my wife hasn’t finished. “We’re all having some fruit. Would you like some?” I like fruit, but by now I feel as if I have a small baby in my stomach. My wife gives me that look, which means ‘think of the kids’. I look at my two beautiful boys and in my mind their hair and teeth starts to fall out of their future fat and bloated faces, so I give in and eat some fruit.
Later that night, I toss and turn on my side of the bed, unable to get to sleep due to indigestion. I should never have said yes to that fruit.
*OK, it is the taste really, I mean, tea without sugar, ugh!
** I know, call me a heathen, but they taste so good.