I hate vegetables. So I don’t eat them.
“You don’t eat vegetables?!” I guess it’s a natural question for grownups to ask another grownup. It’s the consternation and obsessive need for verification I don’t understand. “Brussels sprouts?” Come on. I mean, I hate vegetables, and you’re going with Brussels sprouts right out of the gate? No. I don’t eat goddamn Brussels sprouts. “Eggplant?” No. “Asparagus?” For blerg’s sake, no. “Mushrooms?” No. “Peas?” No. And on and on until someone finally lands on something like…corn. Yes, OK, fine. I eat corn.
I’m always surprised at how galvanizing my hatred of vegetables is. Friends, family, total strangers, new acquaintances, colleagues, whoever is standing in earshot learn this news and truly fear for my life. They rally around me and campaign for their favorite vegetables. “Julie, I really think if you just give artichokes a chance, you’ll see, you’re a fart sucking idiot.” Friends have suggested donating my (live) body to science to be studied for surviving on little more than meat and potatoes. People I meet in passing profess an exaggerated, undying love for vegetables, enumerating them one by one, pausing to ask again, “Are you sure you don’t like kale? It’s my favorite.” Still don’t. And every single one of them swears he or she will be the revolutionary who will change it all for me and that this will be the year I will learn to love Swiss chard (this will also be the year I learn Swiss chard is not cheese). People really love vegetables. And I find this shocking. Was I the only child in America hiding peas in my milk and feeding broccoli to the family dog? Hating vegetables is rooted in something, somewhere real. I know I’m not alone.
Then one day in the early summer of 2008 life as I knew it took a sharp right turn. I mean, utter upheaval. It happened at a dinner party hosted by grownups and attended by adults, so it was assumed, understood, a given that I would act right and polite and do my due dinner party diligence by not puking on their food. Until they served a caprese salad. A caprese salad, as you may or may not know, is a tomato. It also has some cheese and basil on it, but it’s basically a tomato. And tomatoes I do not eat. Because why? That’s right, it’s a vegetable. And you naysayers who want to call it a fruit can stuff it, because I don’t eat fruit either. Eight or so of us sat at the table; eight or so pieces of tomato and mozzarella rested beautifully on the platter. The man sitting to my right took his tomato and began to pass the platter in my direction, as if he expected me to take it from him and maybe take a tomato and maybe pass the platter to the woman on my left. I just stared. I thought of suddenly feigning illness and making a quick, sick-like getaway to avoid contact with the dreaded tomato and possibly achieving my goal of not puking on my friends’ dining table. Then I began to have psychotic fantasies of the tomato leaping off the platter and eating me, which is totally something a vegetable would do. During all this mind wandering, the man to my right had managed to maneuver the platter into my hands, and there we sat: the killer tomatoes and me. Finally I selected the “salad” with the smallest tomato and the biggest piece of cheese and settled in to meet my slow, miserable, painful death by tomato.
But holy for serious, I liked it.
And that was the day I became a bona fide grownup.
In the transition to my new world order, I realized these sad facts about my life, pre-grownup:
- My husband, who is an excellent and knowledgeable cook, had all but stopped eating vegetables because of me
- Because we could never agree on what to cook together at home, we had established a lifestyle of eating out almost all the time, which negatively affects both our waists and our wallets
- And because I never really needed to, I never learned to cook
So I decided to kill all these goddamn birds with one stone. I’m going to take on vegetables. It’s me…against them. If you’re the betting kind, bet on me. I’m the winning kind. I win shit.