If you’ve ever read my “about” page, you will see that my son, Omar, claims that our family is about food. That is a bit of a generalization, but I would definitely agree that his and my relationship is, ever since he was conceived and could cause me to have cravings, to when he would sit on the counter while I prepared meals gleeful as Scooby awaiting snacks, to our vacations together where culinary exploration was paramount to our trip, to when we grew vegetables and canned them, until now, when he lives hundreds of miles away but keeps me updated on how he can eat on $3 a day as I make lists of what to prepare this Easter Weekend to delight him and keep him coming back for more.
With each of my three pregnancies, my children’s palette’s dominated my existence. I ate when they were hungry and only what they wanted or I paid dearly for it. I could not stomach tomatoes while pregnant with Aziza to the point of having to walk out of a room if tomato sauce was being brushed onto a pizza…on television! And to this day, she cannot stand them and avoids them at all cost. Faisal, my little sugar fiend wanted fruit and sweets. He nearly popped out of the womb declaring that he was about “fruit, candy, and playing!” And Omar, the little gourmet wanted nothing less than sophistication of flavors and textures to give him pause several times throughout the day. Even now, he will not sit in front of a computer or tele to eat, but will sit himself down at the dining table, placing his cloth napkin on his lap and bowing his head to give “thanks” before commencing to savor the culinary delights set before him.
Despite it being eighteen years since I was last pregnant, my life still revolves, to some degree, around my children’s dietary requirements and preferences. Why? Well, ‘cuz I’m their mom and it’s my job. But besides that, it is my pleasure. I love to feed people! So whether it is juicing alongside my daughter while she fasts in preparation for her role as Tessie the Stripper, changing up the “I only eat these things” list for Faisal who tends to become enamored with a meal and eats only that, much like I find a song and play it to death, to developing new plates that make Omar go “Oooohh!”, my life is still about my children’s appetites. Lucky me!
So since he is on a $3-a-day grocery budget, $9-a-pound buffalo meat or $26-a-pound halibut is out and vegies and starches are in. And no, he is not getting fat, but that may be the three hours-a-day of rowing or the fact that he bikes around Boston since he is without a license and car. So what will $3 a day buy you? Oatmeal and a banana for breakfast, a cup of rice and vegetables for lunch, and a plate of vegetables and 3 ounces of fish for dinner. (Yes, working at Chipotle is a godsend for someone who consumes 4000 plus calories per day!) Imagine my joy when he informed me that living on the cheap has made him incredibly frugal and that he now understands why I saved the juice, oil, and herbs in jars even after the pickles, artichoke hearts, or olives were eaten…marinades!
I cannot wait for him to visit for the Easter holiday. After he walks in and says, “He is risen”, I will respond with “He is risen, indeed!” and then we will eat for 72 hours. My nearly famous deviled eggs, lamb chops with a garlic and rosemary marinade, and creme brulee with zest of lemon will be some of the things we prepare and then devour together. After which time, he will return to his $3-a-day regimen and I will begin working on a snack bar for him to eat while he rides his bike from San Francisco to Boston to raise money for ALS this summer. Food does more than feed our bodies. For Omar and me, it feeds our relationship.