10.28.2008

Fruit Basket

Toward the end of high school I was a sandwich artist at Subway, an experience that brought about an interesting observation.

People have mixed reactions to vegetables. Some people will take 'em all, some people will leave 'em all. Some people request or reject because of flavor or texture, or even color. Some people pick and choose based upon their mood or the particular meat they are dressing. This cavalier attitude holds true for most veggies, but rarely, if ever for these:

Yes, I know the tomato is actually a fruit - but did you know, more specifically, it's a berry? All the confusion is due to a 1893 ruling by the Supreme Court (yes, the highest court in the land had nothing better to do than to rule on the classification of this specific organic material) that considers tomatoes to be vegetables when interpreting the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883. Again, it's all about the taxes.

On many occasions I received violent objections to the suggestion of tomatoes on a customer's sandwich. Contrarily, I garnered many an eager request for extra tomatoes piled high. Tomatoes seemed to be the veggie people felt strongest about - you love 'em or you hate 'em - there is rarely an in-between.

Addy is one of those people who HATE tomatoes. Logically I understand, since I can't put a bean of any kind (except green beans) in my mouth without gagging. (I also can't stomach split-pea soup or liver - both products of a traumatic childhood - thanks, Mom.) But emotionally I'm confused. I LOVE tomatoes. I love them fresh, canned, sauteed, stewed, baked, fried . . . I love them in salads, sauces, casseroles, stews, on pizza and sandwiches . . . I love them red, green, purple, yellow, orange, striped . . . best of all is ripe out of the garden, sun-warmed and juicy. But Addy won't have them any way.

Since a very, very young age Addy has spit tomatoes out whenever one has accidentally (or otherwise) entered her mouth. She has screamed and yelled and thrown many a tantrum when required to eat anything containing a recognizable tomato product (ketchup doesn't count - something about the sugar content.) I have tried over and over again to coax even a bare toleration for tomatoes out of her with little success. I've conceded and now allow Addy considerable lenience when refusing to eat tomatoes.

Perhaps the most disappointing casualties of our tomato wars have been Jack and Ellie. They aren't the most adventurous eaters but are typically willing to try something new, especially when bribed with dessert. Unfortunately tomatoes are one line they let Addy's experiences draw for them. Anything that resembles a tomato brings automatic whines and complaints. Even phonetic confusion warrants argument, e.g., "No Ellie, it's a potato, not a tomato!"

Last night I declared a mini-war on this situation. Each Thing was going to try a less-than-loved fresh veggie, even if their preconceived notions encouraged objection. Addy was given a red pepper.

She dipped it in ranch dressing, grimaced and took a tentative nibble. The verdict? Apparently ranch dressing makes red pepper taste like a carrot.

Ellie was given a spear of cucumber.

Yes, it also is actually a fruit.

Now, while cucumber is a perennial favorite of Addison's, her influence has historically had little hold over Ellie in this matter. For some strange reason, however, Ellie was in finer form than usual and ate the cuke with no complaint. The verdict? Yummy!

Another one of those pesky fruit masquerading as a veggie.

Jack's turn. He was required to eat a piece of avocado.

Jack was disgusted by the site of avocado on his plate. In frustration I told him to eat it already! After all, it tastes like butter. And Jack loves butter.

Jack's response? "Can I put butter on it?" After a resounding "NO", Jack flared his nostrils, gingerly took the avocado with his teeth, while carefully avoiding getting any on his lips, and gagged it down. The verdict? Humph . . . it does tastes like butter.

Here's another berry for you.

I figured the dinner experiment was successful enough and so out came the big gun - a juicy ripe tomato. I was determined to redeem my most beloved pseudo-veggie in the eyes of my Things. The responses?

  • Addy plugged her nose and swallowed without complaint. I'm so proud. She really is growing up.
  • Jack whined for a second, took the plunge, and declared, "I am NEVER eating one of those again . . . until I want to."
  • Ellie, again with no objection (she must have been really tired), chewed, savored, and swallowed. "It tastes like ketchup." I'm a little concerned about her palate. Maybe she's got a sinus infection?

Moral of the story? I guess I've just got to eat and let eat. As long as no one tries to force any variation of bean on me I'll continue to turn a blind eye to Addy's tomato issues. As for Things 2-4? They've got a few more years of convincing ahead if they want the same consideration.

1 comment:

Kenny and Linsey said...

Caleb loves tomatoes, and would rather eat them over anything else save maybe chicken.

Ah, sandwich artist at Subway, now that takes me back.