Being a “Picky” Eater

I’m not sure I’ve made this completely clear, but I’m a vegetarian.  Right now, I won’t get into the reasons why I am a vegetarian, but I point it out because I came across an interesting opinion article in the NY Times today called “Complaint Box: Picky Eaters.”

In essence, the article talks about the million dietary demands (see cartoon above) that people place on themselves and the difficulty in tailoring a dinner party to meet all these needs.  It’s sort of a funny article and relevant to me, especially with Thanksgiving coming up.

I’m going to the lovely fella’s family’s house for Thanksgiving because it’s too expensive to get to California but the Philadelphia area is within driving distance. They are not vegetarians, nor do they plan on being.  That’s fine.  I don’t expect everyone in the world to make the same lifestyle choices I do.

That being said, I have a few concerns:

1. I don’t want to eat Turkey (or really any other meat).  I was never that big a fan of it anyway, but the idea of it right now sort of makes me sad.  I also think it might be rude of me to offer to make something because I would hate to ruin their established traditions (aka what if they have a sweet potato casserole that they LOVE and look forward to each year?)

2.  I don’t want them to feel like they have to prepare a special meal specifically for me.  The author of the article mentions the difficulty in preparing something that everyone can enjoy, but I don’t think that should be her concern.  She ends the article:

I have had enough with people who want to have it their way, and I am done catering to the quirks of food-obsessed numskulls. If you eat in my home, I will grudgingly respect medically diagnosed allergies, since it puts a pall on conversation when a guest goes into anaphylactic shock at the dinner table. But beyond that, I expect you to eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble. On Thursday, 15 people are sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and with God as my witness, I promise you this: There will be dark meat.

I can completely appreciate that.  While I don’t consider myself to be a “food-obsessed numskull,” I think everyone is entitle to make choices about what he or she puts in his or her own body.  However, when you are a guest at someone’s house, you shouldn’t inconvenience your host.  I know her language is a bit brash, but I agree you should “eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble.” Do you disagree?

That’s what I’m going to try to do.  Thanksgiving should be about spending time with people you care about (I know this sounds cheesy) not about the food. I’ll try my hardest not to complicate matters and if I have to eat something with meat in it, one day won’t kill me, right?  I can push bits of bacon to the side and deal with chicken broth.

How do you deal with “picky” eaters? What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

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Coffee

I love coffee.  I’ve drank it since I was about 4 years old.  I know that sounds ridiculous, right?  Who’s mother lets them drink coffee at such a young age!?!  My parents are from Guatemala, so coffee is pretty common at all ages and at all times.  I was never kid that liked to play with the other kids.  I was a grandma from day 1.  I would rather chat with the ladies and have coffee than go out and play with the kids.

I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about coffee and caffeine.  Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having coffee everyday. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where coffee was perfectly natural all the time, but I don’t think it’s harmful.  I’ve taken a biology class (Brain, Mind and Behavior way back when) and understand the effects of caffeine on the brain but from what I recall, nothing too adverse (please correct me if I’m wrong).

On another note, coffee production is a huge part of the economy of many countries.  I found this really cool set of data (aka really cool for me the econ/development nerd) through the Food and Agriculture Organization that shows commodity production by country (you can change it to search by commodity or by country). I had fun playing around with it for a while 🙂

If anyone is interested, I saw a really interesting documentary on coffee production (it concentrates mostly on Ethiopian coffee production and commodity trading in Britain) called Black Gold.   I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested

I’m almost done with my next food security topic.  Stay tuned!

What are your thoughts on coffee/caffeine?