I have always been a fan of food. I love to cook. I love to eat. I have never been a picky eater, although I do prefer good, real, whole, local foods. But lately, I have become my own worst nightmare. Not only have I become unpredictably picky, but I also now hate an entire meal: dinner.
I think the loathing is linked to meat. We don’t eat much of any meat throughout our usual days, but at dinnertime, we typically have some sort of meat for our protein. Now, the smell or sight of it cooking is enough to launch me into grimaces and an overwhelming ick.
I should provide a bit of history. I was once a vegetarian. As a teenager, I was eating pork or something and discovered that I thought it was disgusting, so I swore off meat for the next five years or so. Once in college, I would occasionally eat meat, but I never had it in my home, and I certainly didn’t cook it. Then J and I got together. She grew up with lots of meat. She knew how to cook it–and quite well–so when we moved in together, there was always meat served in our home. Over the years, we have become far more selective about our meat consumption, working to eat primarily ethically grown meats, but now, I just don’t know.
Part of it, honestly, is the texture of the stuff, but it’s also the smell, and frankly the taste. Whereas chicken was once a standby for us, now I can barely choke it down. It sucks.
It sucks for a few reasons. First, my wife and I have always shared cooking duties. We tend to trade from one night to the next, and often we’ll cook together, but I can’t cook now. I have no inspiration. Often, I just want a potato or a salad. My wife is accustomed to me being creative and making whole meals, so you can imagine how disappointing a lonely potato might be in comparison to a lovely grilled salmon, rice, and mixed greens salad. As a result of my loathing, my wife has tried to take over more of the cooking duties. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know what to do with this new picky eater who has taken over her wife’s body. She tries so hard to disguise the meats in good, healthy sauces, but it’s no use. I might as well be a two-year-old. Before, the scent of garlic might have made my stomach growl; now it makes it turn.
So maybe it isn’t just meat. I really do think it’s dinner. Dinner is overwhelming. It’s too much flavor, too much prep, too much food, and just too much to think about. Perhaps if I just ate broth, it would be better. Suddenly, gruel sounds particularly good.
A couple of weeks ago, when I told J that I now hate dinner, she said I didn’t have to have dinner anymore, that I could just have dessert. I liked that idea, although I didn’t really eat dessert. Nevertheless I would revel in a tasty orange, perhaps some popcorn, maybe even some yogurt or an almond butter and jam sandwich. However, I think my wife grew tired of eating alone, of not having our usual evening meal tradition, and she has been making dinners for both of us, and it’s not ever easy. I feel terrible about it really. She offers to make me a vegetarian option of something she’s making, but I’d rather she didn’t go to the trouble for a meal I don’t want anyway. I would rather just have my potato or almond butter on toast.
I’ve been doing my best, though. I’ll eat a few bites and try to fill myself up. If we have a salad, I’ll reward myself with a bite of that only after I’ve had some of the protein on my plate. I feel like I’m negotiating with a toddler, and it’s weird because this doesn’t feel anything like me.
I don’t think I’m going to declare myself vegetarian again. I still like the idea of a nice piece of free-range, grass-fed beef–just not for awhile. I’d like to think of this more as a first trimester sabbatical from meat. Yes, that sounds just fine.