Quirks, Habits & Tradition

To say I was a finicky eater growing up is like saying the sky is blue. My family will tell you stories. Lots and lots of stories. I’ll break it down to just a couple things. I would only eat cheese pizza. Spinach juice (the liquid left over from cooking canned spinach) was a favorite as well. And I loved mac n cheese. Still do.

Then there was eating out, or eating at someone’s house. Neither worked well for me as a kid. Eating at a friend’s house was a nightmare of anxiety. I didn’t want to try anything unfamiliar. A friend’s mom once made us peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Nope – wouldn’t eat it. Said I was allergic to honey to get out of it – because at that point, I’d never had honey before and was damned sure I wasn’t gonna try it right there and then. Stupid, right?

Eating out was no better. I looked for variations on mac n cheese – linguini Alfredo was a favorite. I spent a summer with my dad where every time we went to this diner he liked, I ordered a club sandwich. Until it pissed him off and he ordered me a fish – like, a real fish with an eye staring up at me from the plate – and we had a good old fashioned stand off where I refused to eat and he refused to leave until I did. I never ate it and we did leave, but to this day, I don’t like fish.

And then there was Chinese food. Talk about a rut… I found something I liked, and stuck with it – well into my twenties. Egg foo young*, white rice and soy sauce. Mom would buy extra white rice because I would pile it up on my plate, sprinkle it with soy sauce then cover it with egg foo young. That was it. I wouldn’t eat anything else at a Chinese place.

I did, finally, branch out to other things – but it took time. But it’s still a quirk of mine to find something I like and get that – and only that – at a restaurant. When I realize I’m falling back into that habit, I force myself to try something – anything – new. It doesn’t always work.

Speaking of habits… With the coronavirus happening and everybody stuck inside to help prevent the spread, a lot of people – including me – went a little grocery-crazy. This has resulted in a decided lack of toilet paper and paper towels on the shelves. When this all started a couple weeks ago, I had 3 of those extra-large rolls of Charmin and a couple rolls of paper towels. I figured it was enough to get through. I was wrong.

I noticed I have a habit of grabbing paper towels for everything. EVERYTHING. This whole situation has shown me that I need to change. Early on, I noticed this and have been actively trying to curb the impulse. I put out extra hand towels – the cloth kind – and whenever I reach for a paper towel for something, I shift the motion to grab one of those towels instead.

Honestly, that habit is a germ thing with me. I’ve got it in my head that the hand towels, being communal between my brother and I, are gonna have germs on them. I am combatting this by changing them out often. As such, I really have curbed my paper towel use. However, my brother has not and those two rolls are now gone. I managed to find another roll at King Soopers, and another after that, at Safeway.

As for TP, well, I think I use too much of that, too. TMI? Whatever. I’m curbing my usage there, too, and still have two full rolls of that Charmin plus 6 rolls of generic Kirkland my cousin brought over for us. I think we’ll be good there.

Is there anything you do when cooking that could be considered a quirk or a tradition? Something you learned from a parent or someone else when you were growing up and continue to do today? I’ve got one. I think it’s both quirky and a tradition, given that both my mom and my Grams did it, and taught it to me and I continue to do it now. What is it?

When I make boxed mac n cheese – usually Kraft Dinner – I add two slices of American cheese to the mix. Basically, I make the noodles as normal but after draining them, I add a little butter and let that melt with the pan’s lid on, mix that up, then I add in the American cheese, replace the lid and let it melt a little, mix that up, then add the powdered cheese and milk. Just like mom and Grams used to make.

How about you?

*Yes, that’s a recent image of egg foo young at the top of this post. I still like it, but admit it’s difficult to find it made fresh/well. Some places order it premade from a restaurant supply-type place and it’s gross (and I assume, frozen). I like it far better when it’s made fresh, and a place near my house does just that – and they also make them HUGE! Small pizza size! It’s crazy and good and I still order it now and again.