Thursday, September 20, 2007

At least my hang-ups smell good

What is my deal with Khubz and the food she eats?

It starts with one small seed pod. But it doesn't end there.

I want her sense of home to be cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, lemons and pistachios. I want her to stay home from school with the flu bug and ask for fideo. I want her to go away to college and tell me that she misses black beans tostadas. I want her to look lovingly at her partner when in the grocery store and replace the minute rice with brown basmati rice. I hope when she turns on the news to find out about the next u.s. occupation of the middle east and sees men sipping qahwa and think, "oohhh. . . I need make some right now."

I expect she will want twinkies and gift cards to unmentionable places in care packages when she is studying abroad. (Likely because, despite my better self, I want twinkies and those same poisonous gift cards.) That's fine. But I hope she'll pull out the envelope of cardamom pods, cook up some rice and then take the softened seeds to roll them around in her mouth.

I know there is no way and no reason to try and dictate what her future will be like. It's not that. It's more that I think we draft the landscape of "home" every day. This is what my home tastes like (along with pizza, sugar cookies, banana bread.)

At first I said "I don't want most of her food to be white people food." But that sort of fictionalizes my own history. I did grow up eating meatloaf and goulash and spaghetti and that kind of weird but yummy green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and those crispy onion thingies. But I also had mint tea and afghani meatball soup and lamb and okra and spinach/feta pies and dried chickpea candies and baklawa made with rosewater.

I fix goulash. It takes 10 minutes, is pretty cheap and totally easy. So I'm not saying the girlchild will have no exposure to american food. But having the daycare provide her 2/3rds of her meals mean that they draft the landscape. Not us. And the only place she's likely to eat kabsa or roasted eggplant with yogurt or foul is with us. And I don't want us to be up against the majority at our own dinner table. And somehow all that olive oil and tahana and burgl and parsley seems more precious and worth safeguarding.

In truth I doubt I'll keep it up (packing lunch for my toddler who is provided with perfectly nutritious meals at daycare.) But it seemed worthwhile yesterday. And it did again today. Tomorrow. . . ? Stay tuned.

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