SIXTEEN AND NOTHING TO EAT
School has been over for nearly two weeks now and the summer job has yet to begin. This means that Rachel has an incredible amount of downtime. Downtime means sleeping late, eventually making ones way downstairs to open the fridge and stare at it complaining there’s nothing to eat. Realizing she would be home from school, I had made an effort to pick up some deli items (sliced cheese, low-fat turkey, low-salt ham) in addition to various types of bread (pita, ciabatta, rye and white) plus fruit, potato chips, nachos, salsa and store bought chocolate chip cookies. (The fact that I’m buying store bought cookies and not baking them just goes to show how much I’m slipping these days….or is it I’m just trying to keep the 16-year-old happy?)
Yet she didn’t want anything I bought. She wanted to go out to eat with her friends. I would come home to find the fridge as full in the evening as I had left it in the morning. It started to annoy me. She had complained there was “no food in the house” and I had gone out and filled the fridge. Or, so I thought.
It all came to a head when she asked me one two many times, “Don’t you just have a five? I want to get something to eat!” In fact I thought I had been giving her way too much money to eat out when she could have easily eaten at home and I said so. That’s when she told me point blank that she didn’t want to actually have to “make anything,” she just wanted there to be something ready-to-eat. And ready-to-eat in her mind meant FROZEN food.
I was more than dismayed. Was she criticizing our lifestyle? Was she heading towards a life-long aversion against cooking? Was she going to get fat eating food that came in a box?
So, I went to Trader Joe’s with a bit of an experiment in mind. I would pick up some frozen items and see which ones she gravitated towards. First on the list, edamames both in and out of the shell. I actually thought this might be the perfect snack food although she would still have to boil them. Next to go in the cart: a bag of chicken pot stickers, puff pastry poppers stuffed with jalapenos, a box of mini pizzas (with a picture on the cover depicting luscious looking little pizzas which for a second even made me want to try one but then I snapped out of it) and finally a package of ice cream sandwiches. I also picked up some fruit, lots of cheese and more bread. When I got home I dumped all the frozen boxes and bags in the freezer and waited for her reaction.
Sure enough when she came downstairs looking for sustenance she said “Wow!” when she opened the freezer. She looked at the frozen pizza and said, “These are really good, I’m glad you bought them.” Obviously she had been snacking on food of this calibre before just not at our house. But here’s the thing, even with everything I had bought, it still needed to be microwaved or put in the toaster oven. Maybe my version of cooking (pizza dough from scratch, dumplings made from wonton wrappers and filled with shrimp and cabbage or leftover shortribs) was just too extreme for a 16-year-old to contemplate let alone make? After all hadn’t it taken me a good 30 plus years to be where I am cooking-wise?
While I’m still not happy with her choices, I do see her point. But she should understand mine. I would rather eat NOTHING than something that came in a box.