“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” ~M. F. K. Fisher
I have an issue. I hate sharing food. Hate it. And, now that I truly reflect on it, “hate” might not be a strong enough word for the feeling that stirs deep inside me when someone eyes something I’m quite happily, peacefully nibbling on. I guess I’m sort of like my dog that way. If I walk into the room where she is eating, she will glare suspiciously at me out of the corner of her eye as if to say “Don’t even think about it, lady.” I have no interest in ingesting her dog food, but she’s not taking any chances. I get it. She and I are simpatico that way.
I blame this deep-seated food selfishness on my mother. I suppose because so little of what she had while we were growing up was hers and hers alone she coveted her food. My sisters and I were not allowed to touch a morsel on her plate. I distinctly remember being in restaurants with her where we would ask for a bit of her meal only to be told, “If you wanted this, you should have ordered it.” Touché. We learned quickly that what was on our plates was solely ours and that no one had a right to it unless we offered it first. Actually, I’ve simply considered it good etiquette not to ask for a bite of another person’s meal. If they want to share, they will offer. And I never want to share so I never offer. End of story.
I only bring this up now because 16 years ago I married into a family of food sharers, and I have struggled with this little complication ever since. The other night we were out to dinner with my in-laws, and the food sharing conversation began. Phrases like, “Oh….that looks good!” and “Wow. How is that?” dotted our table. As soon as the comments began flying, I bristled. In their defense, my extended family loves to eat and they are generous food sharers. They are foodies with extensive palates and insatiable curiosity about foods and flavors. And, while I understand their desire to trade food with others to sample new things, like my dog at her stainless steel dish I cower defensively over my plate when the food talk starts. If you wanted this, you should have ordered it.
The other day hubby and I were home together but making separate lunches. I had acquiesced to release the leftovers I truly wanted so that he might have them. In exchange, I had grilled what I considered to be a second-rate alternative, a ham and swiss cheese sandwich. He gave it an admiring once over. I snapped at him.
“You had your lunch. Back off.”
He wisely determined it was my low-blood sugar condition talking (the one that makes me meaner than a bear after hibernation when I’m hungry), and skulked away.
It’s not that I’m anti-sharing. I will happily share most of my things without a second thought. But if you want to keep all ten of your digits in tact, you’d best keep them away from my food. I haven’t bitten anyone for stealing food off my plate yet but, like my docile and seemingly sweet border collie, I wouldn’t rule it out.