life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Food is love - another tale from the screwed up family front

No, I am not making this stuff up, more's the pity.

We all have this picture in our heads of the stereotypical Jewish mother (or Italian, or Greek or whatever) spending her life in the kitchen, feeding/overfeeding her family to show that she loves them, providing food as a cure-all.  Bad day at school?  Here's some chicken soup.  Boyfriend dumped you?  Have a slice of home baked pie.  You get the idea.

I have the opposite situation at home.

F and A are fairly good cooks.  Baking has been their special hobby for a long time.  They are very good at it.

Which truly surprises me, because they put themselves on a crazy diet many years ago. They don't eat most of what they cook, and none of the things they bake.  Really.  They live on bread and bagels (no toppings - butter, jelly, cheese and cream cheese are not allowed), baked potatoes (plain or with mustard), pasta with nonfat tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesian, fresh fruit, salad without dressing. Nonfat frozen yogurt, and Twizzlers candy (there's no fat in it).  If a dish contains so much as a teaspoon of oil, they won't eat it.  At the Italian restaurant they order pizza with sauce but no cheese. At the Chinese takeout they order steamed vegetables, plain rice, sauce on the side, and bean curd and cabbage soup. Once in a blue moon they might have a bit of grilled chicken.   Diet is very high in carbs, very low in protein, completely lacking in dairy, completely fat-free.  Not particularly healthy, and eventually they will pay for it.

And while A is still thin, F is a good 30 - 40 pounds heavier, so I guess it's not all that effective. (Meow.)

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I struggle with my weight.  I've joined Weight Watchers more times than I can count.  My diet is not always a healthy one, but at least I know what good nutrition is and I strive for it.  My sisters do not. 

Anyhow, food has become a battleground.

At first it was just the baked goods.  The cookies and cakes would come out of the oven and would be absorbed into the ether.  If they baked it I am not supposed to eat it.

Next it was the chocolate and the soda.

My mother likes to buy chocolate, like Ghiradelli Squares or Lindor Truffles, to have at the end of dinner.  My sisters hide the packages, and dole out small portions to my parents.

Same thing with soda.  Sometimes my mother buys bottles or cans, sometimes my sisters use my mother's credit card to buy it.  The soda gets hidden and doled out to my parents in small portions.

The reason has nothing to do with my parents' consumption of these products.  My sisters have determined that I should not consume chocolate or soda purchased by my parents.

My mother gets very frustrated when she cannot find things she knows she bought and paid for.  But she doesn't do anything about it.  At this point I doubt there's anything she can realistically do.

So I have gotten into the habit of buying a lot of my own stuff, soda, snacks, etc.

It's one thing when the food my mother paid for disappears into the black hole.  I know my parents will eat it eventually.

It's quite another when MY stuff disappears.

My mother always kept a kosher home when my grandmother was alive. Grandma would not have eaten in our house if it wasn't kosher.  Since it was for my grandma's sake only, after grandma passed my mother stopped caring about kosher laws.

Except during Passover.

The laws during the 8 days of Passover are more onerous than kosher laws for year-round. Not only do you have to avoid nonkosher foods like shellfish and pork, you have to follow additional rules.  According to Exodus, the Israelites had to flee Egypt in such a hurry that they could not wait for the bread dough to rise, and baked it while still flat.  We symbolically recreate the Exodus by eating matzah and by not consuming any foods with leavening.  No bread, no pasta, no Cheerios, etc.  You're not supposed to keep any of the forbidden foods in your home during the holiday.  You're supposed to throw it out or give it away.

My mother is not particularly religious.  We usually take the forbidden foods out of the pantry and store them in the laundry room.  Things that would spoil, however, are given to a friend.  Why throw it out if someone else can use it?

So guess what wound up in the care package?  unopened packages of Kraft Easy Mac, Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers, Jif to Go, Campbell's single-serving microwaveable soup . . .

But wait, aren't those items shelf stable?

Of course they are.  They were also mine.

Ah, well, I shouldn't have them in my possession this week.  And it's a blessing to give to others.  And her kids will enjoy the food.

But they should have asked.

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