I used to be a much pickier eater than I am now. There were a few things that I would eat regularly, and I didn’t much stray from that. Not quite to the degree of Anderson Cooper, but not that far away either. When I was little my mom would pack my lunch for me because I wouldn’t eat most of the things offered for school lunches. French fries, yes. Fruit cocktail, any vegetable or mystery meat, no. Even pizza was iffy because let’s be realistic; school cafeteria pizza sucks.
Even now just recalling the smell of that elementary cafeteria makes me sort of nauseous,. It was a curious combination of yeasty rolls and soured milk. Oh yeah, don’t get me started on the milk. Today, I like nothing better than an icy, icy cold glass of milk in a frosty mug which I keep in the freezer for just such an occasion. Of course that glass of milk has to be accompanied by three of four chocolate chip cookies. Just the thought of drinking that lukewarm school milk … not good.
I was the envy of my lunch table because my Holly Hobby lunch box was full of hot Franco-American Spaghettio’s or Raviolis (never Chef Boyardee) in a thermos, potato chips and a Little Debbie cake or brownie or some other sweet goodness. I NEVER traded my lunch. Not even a part of it, because let’s face it, those other losers were screwed.
I also never got to leave first as a result of cleaning my tray. If you had a clean tray (ie ate all of your lunch) you got to leave early. I really don’t remember now why that was so coveted, but because I brought my lunch, I was never in the game. Home lunches didn’t count for a clean tray. Of course you were going to eat all of your home lunch; it was delicious.
Only two times in my elementary career did I get to leave early for having a clean tray. Once was when a teacher basically forced me to try a prune from my crappy school lunch tray. She wanted me to eat them all. No. Way. She was lucky I didn’t blow prune chunks all over her nice sweater vest. I aet the thing, begrudginly and by ate I mean swallowed it whole and gagged down a swig of warm white milk.
She let me go early after that and never again asked me to ‘try’ something on my plate. If you want to ruin a kid on prunes, that’s the way to do it. Grace asks me to buy them for her. Of course they don’t come out of a tin can all slimy and disgusting like those cafeteria prunes did.
The other time I got to leave with the clean plate crowd was when I cheated. I had witnessed enough upper elementary kids master the clean plate game by stuffing any offending morsels into their empty milk cartons. Teachers didn’t check milk cartons. Of course like all things in life there was a price. You had to drink ALL of your lukewarm milk to be able to do it. Drinking that milk was only slightly better than sitting at the table alone, waiting to leave. I only did it once. Mostly because I hated the milk AND I was afraid I’d get busted. I had a healthy fear of elementary teachers and going to The Principal’s Office.
Somehow, I managed to live through the daily lunch time horrors and make it to high school where no one cared what I ate. I thought I might never escape those school cafeterias. I stupidly signed on to teach for three years after college. Those cafeteria ladies thought I was insane because I daily asked for any green food offering to be eliminated from my tray. I also didn’t like salads so my lunch offerings were greatly limited.
Now, many, many, many years later I have branched out, and I like lots of food I would have never imagined my grown up self to be eating. Some foods my elementary self would have puked up in the cafeteria but I now eat include: avocados, spring mix salads, chilli with beans in it, creamed spinach, tomatoes,dried figs and yes I would even eat a prune. But not one out of a can. That would be wrong.
Poor Bryon, if he hadn’t known how to cook and grill when we first got married he would have starved. My diet consisted of frozen Totino’s pizzas, still SpaghettiO’s and Raviolis, brownies and turkey TV dinners. I also really liked Hardee’s big chocolate chip cookies back in the day.
Mercifully Bryon still cooks sometimes. He likes to cook fancy stuff. Which works out great, because it turns out I like to eat fancy stuff.
As long as it doesn’t include room temperature milk, I’ll try a bite of anything,