[“Let Inga Tell you,” La Jolla Light, published October 31, 2022] ©2022
You never really know how annoying people can be until you actually live with them.
Some of them can continue to be really annoying even after they don’t live with you anymore but merely visit.
I am speaking of my husband and sons. I am so over picky consumers.
As the family shopper, I do my best to stock my family’s preferred foods and beverages, only to have them change those preferences without informing me.
It’s bad enough to have a pantry or freezer full of food from your usual market that people specifically asked for but no one is eating anymore. But if it came from another market to which you made a special trip, it makes the household shopper positively surly.
I am sure I am not alone in this.
Olof, for example, seems to go through cycles of favorite snack foods. For a while, he preferred unsalted roasted almonds that were really only available, and not always in stock, in those bulk bins at Sprouts.
So, when they had them, I’d buy up to ten pounds at a time and transfer them to plastic containers and store them in the modest freezer of my side-by-side refrigerator. They’d take up a fair amount of room but usually he was eating them at a sufficient pace that there would quickly be room for actual food.
After a while, I’m noticing that there still seem to be eight pounds of almonds taking up valuable real estate in the freezer, and they aren’t moving.
“Olof,” I say, “what’s with the almonds? You don’t seem to be eating them.
“I’m kind of tired of them,” Olof replies. “Would you start getting unsalted mixed nuts instead?”
Let me say that I now know pretty much every recipe you can make with eight pounds of orphaned almonds. Pestos! Banana bread! Crusted fish! All of which I never intend to eat again!
Alas, unsalted mixed nuts went the way of roasted almonds. Then he was on to a specific brand of tortilla chips and fresh salsa.
Two weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that the opened bag of tortilla chips had gone stale, and the container of fresh salsa had just expired. I ended up dumping both. He’s apparently moved on to sliced cheese.
“Olof, min lilla lutfisk,” I said, “would it be at all possible to indicate to the family shopper – that would be moi - when your food preferences have changed? Because the family shopper lacks clairvoyance but is finding herself increasingly aggravated at the lack of communication skills in this household of which the only other occupant is you.”
It’s been a problem long before Olof got picky about snacks. When my sons were growing up, and even now in their adult years, keeping up with what they’d eat – and drink –has been a constantly changing script. School lunches would start coming home uneaten.
For a while, Rory would only eat sandwiches made from cold cuts from a certain deli (not, of course, the one at your local supermarket.)
And don’t even get me going on sandwich bread.
Henry was a particularly difficult kid to feed. If he’d had his druthers, he would have subsisted entirely on Chinese food until he was ten. I had this theory that some major cosmic accident had occurred during his conception and that there was some poor woman in Asian whose kid would only eat Hostess Ding Dongs and McNuggets.
Keeping up with Henry’s beer preferences in his adult years has been a losing battle. Since you have to buy a whole six-pack at a time, I could open my own Farmer’s Market concession stand of formerly-preferred IPAs.
I have to admit, even the dog does it. No, not change beer preferences. She’s a confirmed teetotaler. She’ll suddenly refuse to eat whatever she’d been eating, so I’ll try different foods until I find something else she’s willing to consume. Then I go ahead and order a case of it on Chewy which she decides she doesn’t like when we are halfway through it.
Maybe I can add all that dog food to my IPA stand? I could even invite other local moms to consign their own family’s rejectables to the table. I’m thinking this could be a whole new cottage industry among terminally testy household shoppers nationwide. We could ever donate the proceeds to some good cause, which I’m thinking should be a weekly happy hour.
Now, one might suggest buying in smaller quantities but that would assume that my time is only important to me, not to the uncommunicative fellow residents.
OK, I admit I’m an enabler. But like most moms, it’s built into our ego systems to want to take care of our families, including the pathologically picky dog, and have their preferred sustenance on hand.
But from now on, Henry can bring his own damn beer.