Metamorphosis

When I was growing up, there were certain things I didn’t eat simply on principal. I didn’t eat chicken except for the breast because of fear of biting into a vein or, lord forbid, a fatty gristle. The word gristle still sends cold shivers up my spine. Nor did I eat steak because my father favored the kinds with fat still intact and cooked with the rest of the meat. As I got older my list of acceptable foods expanded. Once in Washington DC, I ate an insect taco. It was delicious and I would do it again.

Here in Georgia, my eating habits are very consistent but can’t be all that healthy. My host mother is very deliberate in making sure I have food on the table. I think she takes slight offense if I eat elsewhere. And for the most part she is a great cook. Unfortunately for us, she has lately started to bake her own bread. It looks and has the consistency of focaccia. But it tastes horrible! I don’t have the heart to tell her, and I think the other family members share my opinion. When she puts the store bought bread on the table in addition to hers, they always take the store bought bread. I think it’s a trick, so I eat two of her pieces of bread for every piece of new bread. But that plan might be backfiring. What if she thinks I LOVE her bread? Otherwise all of her food is great.

But I have learned that ‘good’ isn’t enough to make a meal desirable. She makes a great potato salad. Very comparable to my own mother’s back in the States. My mom is a genuine born and raised southern woman. So saying it’s ‘comparable’ is saying a lot. But the deliciousness evaporates when it’s the ONLY thing served for a meal… with bread… and water. The first helping is great, and I think to myself, ‘you can do this’. Then the monotony overwhelms me and I can’t continue to force myself to overdose on potato salad. I don’t care how good it is.

I have mentioned this next part before, but want to revisit it. Our meals are like clockwork. Within 15 minutes of waking up, breakfast is ready and served. A basket of bread, jam, something that reminds me of cream cheese, and tea. Everyday. But to be fair, occasionally on the weekends, Natia bakes some Khatchapuri or pancake looking things. And once in a while hot cacao.

3 p.m. everyday, we eat lunch regardless of who is home. Even if I am the only one home, I am expected to eat at 3. Natia calls to remind me and give instructions for what to eat specifically. Our lunch meals are fortunately hot most days. But even the cold dishes are appetizing and at least filling.

And at 8 p.m., we eat ‘dinner’. A basket of bread, jam, something that reminds me of cream cheese, and tea. Everyday. But to be fair, occasionally on the weekends, Natia bakes some Khatchapuri or pancake looking things. And once in a while hot cacao. (Notice the repetition there?)

Now-a-days I’m starting to question the impact my eating schedule will have on my overall health. Am I getting all the nutrients I need? Am I eating enough, or slowly starving myself? I try to supplement the rarity of meat by eating lots of it at our weekly happy hour.

Which brings me back to meat with fat.

The other day I was eating lunch at home. Natia had prepared one of my favorites- a meaty stew is the best way to describe it. She doesn’t discriminate with the meat. She cuts it up in descent portions and plunges the pieces into the stew. So it’s basically hit or miss as to what you will retrieve with the ladle. I try to cheat sometimes and go fishing when they aren’t looking, but usually, I have to deal with what I get. This last meal, there seemed to be a shortage of ‘all meat’ pieces. When I dipped the ladle, it was either bones with some meat and fat, or chunks of fat with meat. I chose some of both and surprised even myself. The fatty stuff was…. tasty.

Who am I?

***

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

Metamorphosis, Frank Kafka

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2 responses to “Metamorphosis

  1. Omg, my host mom is an AMAZING cook, and I’m probably getting a better variety of nutrients than I did in America. My problem is, despite the fact that I weigh a buck and some change and obviously do not have a large stomach, she feeds me like a five course meal three times a day. Sometimes I really feel like I am about to throw up but force down a few more bites to not be rude. And that’s with still not eating everything before me.

  2. I think I must have been really lucky also – I had two hostesses, and both were big on vegetables. But your comment about gristle – it reminded me of some English-translated menu items in Georgia: “pig ears in chili sauce,” “tossed black and white fungus salad,” “meat snakes,” and …… “boiled veal cartilage (gristle)” ….

Holla atcha boy!

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