1. No thank you portion.
2. Eat what you take.
3. Eat what’s offered or not at all.
I think all families and households have some rules about food and eating, these are the main ones I remember from growing up.
The “no thank you portion” was famous as it applied to everyone, if we had a tomato dish my sister had to put a mouthful of it on her plate even though she hated tomatoes, us girls had to put a bite of fish on our plates even though we despised them, I had to take a small serving of mushrooms even though the slime and texture grossed me out. We didn’t have to take a lot but we did have to take at least a mouthful and put it on our plates, which led to the second rule which was you could serve yourself but you had to eat whatever you took. Seconds were allowed, but if you greedily over served yourself the first go around you had to plow through and finish it, including your no thank you portions.
My first realization that not everyone had the third rule was when I went to a new friends for dinner, the mom had made a fish casserole for her and her husband, and then made macaroni and cheese for the kids which was hard enough for me to understand that there were two meals on offer and you weren’t required to eat what everyone was eating! Then my friend decided she didn’t want macaroni and got up and made herself a peanut butter sandwich! I was so blown away I didn’t even know what to do with myself!
Being trained the way I was I took, and quickly swallowed, a bite of the fish casserole and loaded my fill of macaroni without complaint. The idea that you could decide on something completely off menu of your own accord had never even crossed my mind, my mother would have had a conniption!
A single meal was all that was ever offered and we could eat that, we couldn’t even decide not to eat it if we didn’t want to as we had to take our no thank you portion no matter what.
I’ve since worked as a nanny and used these food rules myself, they might not be perfect but they do work at getting kids to try foods they don’t always like or tried once and decided to hate. They do cut down on crazy demands from each individual child and they do set boundaries for the dinner table that each kid can understand and expect.
The more I think about my childhood food rules the more I wonder about yours- what were the rules growing up for you? What did you expect from dinner time and it’s rituals?
Chips and salsa for breakfast, popcorn and chocolate kisses for dinner, crusts of bread and the skin of bre cheese for lunch, turkey with a side of leftover rice and beans for dinner, pumpkin log with cream cheese frosting for lunch. I’ve eaten my fare share of weird meals.
I usually feel funny when I have to say something to friends about my solo meals as I feed myself a strange array of whatever is left or is on hand in my kitchen. This can sometimes resemble actual meals and sometimes looks a lot like dumpster diving meal prep. It’s at these times that my sisters seem to think I don’t eat real meals, they get worried when they see my pantry or my nearly empty fridge. But I eat regularly and healthily on a pretty regular basis, my cupboards just don’t always show it well.
My strange food combos, meals, and last minute preparations have made me wonder about others odd food ideas. Friends who eat from gas stations on a regular basis are a strange thing to me, people who don’t save leftovers are hard for me to understand, daytime vegetarians are totally a real thing, carb loading for races is something runner friends have told me about. Listening to others food habits makes you realize we all having something that’s just a little funky.
What are your strange food habits? Your favorite not quite a meal meal?
I was spoiled as a kid.
Not so much with material possessions but with food.
My mom was a stay at home wife and mother. She homeschooled four children and managed to run her home, make us Easter outfits every year, make her own bread from grain she ground in her own mill, fry her own tacos, make cheese, and soap.
Looking back honestly I think she was one of those Pinterest ladies who are so intimidating to me now, only she didn’t have the internet in her face telling her when and how she was doing it wrong.
She made us some of the best food around! And still I had lunch envy.
The fact that my friends had mushy white bread sandwiches every day or even lunchables, that food item I coveted as a child, was killer to me!
I did not understand the incredible privilege I had in eating real and delicious food on a regular basis.
Because we had a wide variety of friends there were plenty of kids who I was able to be jealous of as a kid and plenty of kids who were jealous of me. From the white bread kids who got to enjoy hot from the oven fresh baked bread with real butter to the kids who grew up in stricter houses than mine who got excited about moms candy dish and our whole milk.
The thing about food envy is it never seems to go away. Instagram is full of photos of food we want to enjoy and drinks we want to try, Pinterest gives us ideas for all the foods someone else has perfected and we desire.
As someone who started a collection of cookbook and party planning books early on I was eager to get started hosting friends and family for every sort of event I could come up with. I was lucky in that my first place was the perfect gathering place and worked beautifully for many different events. There was a learning curve as I figured out how to feed a crowd, how to ask for help, what friends to invite for what, and how many people would work for different kinds of gatherings. (There is still a lot of learning to do in all of these areas)
Now things are changing as I’m not in the perfectly located apartment with the perfect living space and as I plan more events at my boyfriends home instead of my own, and we enter a new adjustment period of planning events that accommodate both our groups of friends.
It’s fun to have a new space to work with and new ideas to try, but there is also a level of hospitality dread when it comes to new challenges like this. I both love and fear change and this new stage in life is full of it. From planning meals for groups mixed with men who love meat based events and people with health and diets on their mind at the same time to offering drinks to beer lovers and pregnant women at the same time to planning couple based things as well as parties for all friends, are areas where I’m now wading into the hostessing pool.
None of these will probably be huge issues unto themselves but knowing the pressure I put on myself to host things perfectly I know I will feel the stress until I become more comfortable with the new areas of partying.
When I first noticed or figured out that hostessing was one of the areas that I loved people I never would have said that having friends over would stress me out. I didn’t have my own place and I was eager to try my hand at every idea I came across, and I stored away plans like a squirrel waiting for winter. Now I’ve had my own place and the opportunity to try the plans and parties. I understand a lot more about myself as well as the people I host.
It’s good to step back and realize how much you have learned from the first tries, it’s good to realize how much you’ve grown. Cause often it’s easy to become overwhelmed with how much left you have to grow up and figure out.