Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Which Type of Eater Are You?

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 7, 2014.

My eighth grade teacher once told us the cliché that either people eat to live or live to eat. He admitted that he lived to eat, but since he was a marathon runner with the slightly too thin body that can come with long distance running, I felt there was an implication that it was OK for him to live for food because he burned every calorie he ate and then some.

I don't know if he actually meant that subtext, or if was my own baggage combined with how damn mean he was.

But that old saw isn't entirely accurate. I've noticed that there are three ways that people look at food.

People Who Love Food

I'm in this category and proud of it. People who love food aren't gluttons - it's not about the quantity, but the quality. We like to eat good-tasting food on a regular basis. Disappointing food leaves us wanting more. We all have to eat anyway, so by gum, we're going to enjoy it.

Those pathetic excuses for tomatoes that show up everywhere in the Winter? Not worth eating. Overdone french fries? Why would I do that to myself? 

That Weight Watchers slogan about how food isn't love? These people know what BS that is. Food is love whether it's fattening or low cal.  

People Who Hate Food

These are people who eat only because it's necessary to sustain life. The actual food doesn't really matter to them. I'm not going to try to figure out why they're like this because I so completely don't understand. 

My mother-in-law is in this category - possibly because after a lifetime of feeding her family, she only has herself to feed and is so over cooking. I dunno. 

What I do know is that she doesn't understand us either. While we were visiting over the holidays, she told me and my husband that we needed to make something for lunch from whatever she had in the house (while not touching the food that we'd bought for dinner). She teased us that it would be just like Iron Chef. Our response was, "So the secret ingredient is Lean Cuisine?"

We convinced her to eat at Rib Crib. Where I tried to send back my ribs because they were overdone. They gave me a new serving, but left the old one on the table. Where my mother-in-law, who has many lovely qualities I want to note, tasted the bad ribs multiple times, each time declaring how bad they were. It's a level of self-flagellation that I never expected to see outside of Catholicism. 

I can't even.

Other examples of this behavior include going out to drink after work for hours and hours on an empty stomach. A couple of small plates of bar food shared among ten people doesn't constitute dinner. And yet, the bars of Manhattan are filled with these people every evening. When someone insists on grabbing a bite before meeting the gang at the bar, I know I've met a kindred soul.

People Who Have Been Taught To Hate Food

I used to be in this category, thanks to decades of dieting. These are people who see food as the enemy. These are the people who say that guacamole is a no-no, not because of its own inherent qualities, but because you might eat too much of it. 

Many of these people have socially-acceptable eating disorders. They love food, but that love makes them mad at themselves and the food. 

While I'm picking on moms, I'll just mention that my mom has never met a box of chocolate that she opened right away. Or for a couple weeks later. You want a piece of chocolate while at my mom's house? Just look on the sideboard and you'll find two or three boxes that someone gave her and she virtuously set aside for later. "Later" in this case being defined as "as close to never as humanly possible". Or "until company comes over" because my mom will feed the hell out of anyone who walks through her door. Four main dishes and three desserts isn't unusual at her parties.

But hand her something to eat, and it's 50/50 on whether she'll actually eat it. Even though she once ate a mud pie I made for her because I was all, "But I made it for you."

Did I miss any types? What type are you?

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