Get ready. There is a rant coming on.
Food has leaked into every crevice of our daily lives. It’s everywhere. It can be a fashion statement, it can define who you are (all those who refuse to eat seafood for no particular reason, please see a therapist), it can be a hobby, a profession, a distraction, or an addiction. Now it can also, apparently, find you a mate.
I stumbled into Whole Foods late one night after yet another day of Chinese water torture at lab (you think I am being melodramatic, don’t you. Well, you’re wrong) only to walk straight into a podium encasing a well-heeled lady, asking me if I would like to sign in for Whole Foods Singles Night. Umm, no. Thanks though. I am self conscious enough in every other aspect of my life – I don’t need to think three times before putting anything in my shopping cart for fear of being judged for it. “Wow, is she really going to eat that? Who eats that??”, so on and so forth.
The place was like a club for grown ups, some yuppie, some old and bordering sad. There was datey music on, and I swear to you the lights were dimmed. There were little stations set up throughout the store offering samples, which was neat. I was forced to break up the most uncomfortable of all inter-gender conversations I have ever had the misfortune of walking into. Come on! You can’t stand in front of the olives and not expect to be interrupted, even if the topic and timbre of your conversation could put a yippie Chihuahua into a deep sleep. I grabbed what I needed and ran, did not walk, to the train. I have severe curmudgeonly tendencies.
The food weirdness continued. I had the Ikea experience this weekend. I have never been to Ikea before and did not have a good idea of its personality. The personality? Effin’ large, with a searing case of ADD. It is beyond large. It is a city. It exemplifies American excess as no other store… and it’s Swedish! There is food at Ikea. Food has infiltrated furniture. I skipped the Swedish meat balls at the weird institutional/Waco compound cafeteria to stock up on Swedish specialties at the shop. I have a tendency to buy the weirdest thing I can find, just to try it (ergo the above-mentioned shopping cart shivers). This weird thing may beat all other weird things for years to come: smoked cod roe in a squeezable metal tube, with a happy grinning Swedish-looking child pictured on the outside.
The novelty of the space-traveler tube was worth the purchase. The contents of the tube... not so much. The texture of the spread was nice, with crunchy roe suspended in a creamy paste. The taste was another story. It was painfully salty with timid hints of dill. Once the dill faded away, the bitterness came in – the over-fermented, over salted, mineral, aspirin kind of bitterness that lingers even after you try to wipe it out with rye crispbread after crispbread. You know what this spread is? It is Marmite, the sequel. Except worse. It is worse than Marmite, I kid you not. Perhaps I spread it on too thick, or maybe I am lacking some Swedish genes necessary for full enjoyment of this, umm… condiment? Medieval punishment? Polar bear toothpaste? I don’t know.
And finally, the last case of food invasion: FoodTV on the gym TVs. That is simply cruel and unusual. I would rather not stare at Paula Deen tipping a third stick of softened butter onto unsuspecting fish in her “Cooking Light” episode while I am on a treadmill, trying to keep sweat out of my eyes and my hands away from my piercings. Nor do I need to see her dropping doughnuts into a vat of grease (she doesn’t even bother calling it oil. She says grease. I appreciate her honesty) while angrily punching my age into the merciless elliptical. Does it really need to know my age? Is that truly necessary? Does it also need to look into my shopping cart and try to “figure me out”?
I love food, y’all know I do. I love food in a restaurant, in a kitchen, on a picnic blanket, on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean, or cross-legged on the floor at 3AM after too many beers. I do not love food at the gym or at the household goods store, nor do I love my food to become my dating service. That’s what I have a mother for. Sorry, Mom.