The boys, the little ones, are adventurous eaters. They have had the opportunity to taste stuff from the cuisines of countries they will never visit. Or, maybe they will travel like that someday. Who knows.
They have eaten goat, herring and more at our favorite African restaurant. They will try anything hot. Must be genetic, as spice and heat are favorites, yummy and healthy. Despite all that, they prefer mild curries, stews and soups. When they come here, they almost always have their absolute favorites, which are more traditional child favorites, like mac and cheese, which they will eat any way, but prefer from the little boxes, any of them.
They like cheap hot dogs. Great, because those are one of my guilty pleasure. A favorite treat for me is the dollar dogs from the gas station. One of my son-in-law's sisters loves them as well. Wonderful, as before she shared that, I was alone in my love for them. Glistening with grease, rolling around on that rolling thing, soft white bread buns, sloppy relish, mustard and lots of jalapenos, they are my go-to-meal whenever I have the chance. I could go for a couple right now.
Anyway, my daughter had, and has, the same attitudes about food. There is not anything she was ever reluctant to try. Even sushi, which she really does not like all that much. When the little one graduated from preschool recently, I again suggested sushi for lunch, the offer was declined and we went to McDonald's. Interesting experience that. They love the fries and being able to mix their own soft drink combinations. They also like playing in the playing place. I usually have coffee or a salad or coffee and a salad.
My daughter asked if I had ever had one of their wrap sandwiches. I had not, and she told me that they are good. So, I ordered one and it was really good. Grilled chicken (or something really close to chicken, but still grilled), not greasy, cooked/warmed just right. Lots of delicious salad greens, some kind of sauce and a decent tortilla or wrap or whatever they call it. I was really surprised. At four bucks it is on the upper limit of my budget, but I am actually looking forward to having another someday.
But, my favorite meal truly is sushi, especially so because it is easy and inexpensive to make and, except for all that brown rice, is way too high in carbohydrates to be supportive of my diabetes. They boys will never go out for it, so I made and brought some when I went there to spend time with all of them. Taking them over for the weekend was my Father's Day present for my son-in-law, along with some money for treating themselves. I made stuff and stopped at a nice market near to where they live and fed them for two days, too.
I love cooking with the boys. Yesterday they made their own burgers, vegetables and salad. Earlier in the afternoon they made chocolate pudding with tiny chocolate chips, which we had for dessert last night. They helped me make hash browns, all kinds of eggs, ham steaks, bacon (which I burned...sorry), melon and mangoes and we had the rest of the tiny rolls from last night's burgers.
For lunch yesterday, we had lots of vegetables, dip they made, hummous I made, and fruit. And, sushi.
They and their friend from across the street were game to try some of it. Wary, they took little tastes. I reminded them that they did not have to try any of it, but if they did and they did not like it, it could go directly into the trash can. They especially like that they can spit out what is in their mouths and do not have to chew and swallow anything that disgusts them. Makes me chuckle how important that part is for them.
I had made only non-scary rolls, choosing only the vegetables they like. Some had crab meat, as well, something they all like very much. I ended up being the only person to have any, and helped them make sandwiches for their lunch. Still chuckling. There was interesting table conversation.
Me: O.K., X, what do you see in there?
X: Well, I see carrots. He then pulled out the carrot shreds and ate them.
Me: And, you like cucumber.
Me: And, there is the rice.
X: What is that black stuff?
Me: Sea vegetables.
X: That's not that salty seaweed, is it? It looks like that salty seaweed stuff.
Me: Yes, you are right, that is seaweed.
X: No thank you, Grammy.
Me: Cool, you still like the rice.
X: Not any more.
Pretty much the same talk with my other grandson and their friend. The friend could not believe that she would be allowed to spit out what she did not like. I am not all that invested in those kinds of manners when we are trying new foods; it just seems mean to make someone finish eating something they were willing to try but do not like. I guess that sushi will continue to be my solitary pleasure, and the process of introducing it makes sure that they will continue to be willing to try just about anything, and continue to add new tastes to their life.
Sushi is not only delicious, I feel all metaphoric when I am eating it. It contains foods in conditions that are not familiar to the foods of my childhood. It has fish of all kinds, some cooked, some not. I also like sashimi. I also like seaweed. I have a huge jar from the Asian market that is little packages containing four thin sheet of nori. I add it to dishes and enjoy eating it just as it is for snacks. All of the cleaning and chopping and ritual involved in making sushi comforts me. I like the preparation and layering, the rolling and slicing. I like that it is immediately available to pop in my mouth, and I like making it for myself because American preference is for larger rolls. I might be alone in this preference, but I like being able to take the whole slice in one bite, rather than having to take three bites as I do with restaurant sushi.
I like the combinations of flavors, the freshness, the crisp vegetables, the crispy tempura shrimps, the creamy tofu, bright greens, marinated rice, salty seaweed sheets. I like the taste and feel of sushi grade fish in my mouth. It feels like eating the best and most nourishing part of the sea. I love searing my palate with wasabi and then recovering with thin, slightly hot slices of pickled ginger.
That first taste, that first bit in my mouth is mind altering. It is like tasting creation. I know that cooked rice was not one of the first harvested foods, but creatures fresh from the water, plants and beached kelp were part of the first foods that early people risked eating. I can only dream of fish, pulled from clean, clear and healthy water, cleaned (or maybe not) and sliced or pulled apart and eaten. I wonder if there are many parts of the world where that can still be done.
I like how sushi rolls look. Disparate parts brought together, beautifully arranged, ready to enjoy and feed my body and my mind. Maybe even my soul. Surely my willingness to be adventurous, brave, embracing courage as a life practice. Absolutely my love of arrangement and order. Mostly the taste and satisfaction of feeding my body what it needs.
It is midnight. I slept most of the day. I am hungry and there is little food in the house. It is too late to fetch gas station hot dogs; they stopped making those hours ago. All of the sushi ingredients, except for the nori, are gone. It is too late to make popcorn, my favorite dinner, because the noise and scents will bother my neighbors. So, I guess it will be porridge, oats. I really like oats.