My mother never trusted other mothers to feed us.
Although the invitation to a friend’s birthday party would say there was food, it wasn’t real Food. You see there is a distinction between ‘food’ and ‘Food.’ Party ‘food’ is not ‘Food.’ A stomach filled with sausages that have once been stabbed by a toothpick, ham and pineapple with mature cubes of cheddar squidged together, or even creamy birthday cake do not compare to a plate of jollof rice with grilled chicken.
After witnessing her children’s miserable faces as they traipsed back into the car after a long afternoon/evening of pass-the-parcel only to find that there was no ‘Food’ waiting for them at home, my Mother took matters into her own hands. This involved introducing Pre-eating.
Whilst many young, poor, or desperately self-conscious teenagers/young adults, budget middle-aged workers, partake in the now normalised custom of pre-drinking (drinking cheap alcohol before going out so you spend less money in da club), I instead have ingrained a different culture into my partying mind. I cannot envision leaving my room, even when I know I am getting ‘Food,’ without eating my own ‘Food.’ Although this custom has its benefits – when your multi-cultural friends invite you over for a party/gathering/shindig and say there is food, you know from their expression it isn’t capitalised. Notice all the ethnic minority friends throwing each other surreptitious glances as they dip thin strips of red pepper into Sainsbury’s basic hummus – they are not impressed. When you, the savvy aware ‘Foodie,’ have already got a bowl of pasta, pesto, chicken strips, grated red-leicester cheese, a satsuma, some herbal tea and half a carrot (need the veggies) rubbing smoothly along your innards, you allow your self a smug smile, whilst still eating the hummus. It’s ok, you are satiated, you were prepared, you are not hungry.
Yet, it becomes dangerous when you cannot distinguish between environments when you know you will starve – an evening of canapés and champagne (canapés are not Food) – with situations when the real deal is served. Going along to a ‘tea at three party’ in your Faculty’s library, which you have already been to earlier in the week and therefore know the quality of the Food, yet eating a Snickers bar an hour before, a whole bowl of home-made spaghetti bolognese with carrots (remember those veggies) 60 minutes before that, and a bowl of Basics Muesli and Yoghurt which was consumed before that Just In Case?! – that is murky water.
When there is too much Food sitting in the nervous belly, it turns that smug smile into a grimace of indigestion. Now I am aware that it would all be easier if people recognised and employed the Food/food rule. Food must be served around normal mealtimes: if you are asking me to ‘jam’ with you around the time normal people eat dinner, that means 7pm onwards, and you aren’t providing carbs that stretch beyond some variety of bread – then expect me to pre-eat. In fact be ashamed that you have not observed the rule and have forced me to pre-eat, and then eat your ‘fake food’ just to appear polite. Do you know the pain you are causing my fearful stomach?!
Yet, food may be acceptably served around snack and tea times, it tides one over before the real Food slots. Once people begin to observe these vital rules, not only will indigestion and constipation levels reduce, but your ethnic minority or ‘Food aware’ friends will not turn up late to your events smelling of rice, meat and some variety of curry/stew. Please, learn these rules and help us to move away from premature obesity.
Pre-eating, a smart way to prevent first-world ‘starvation.’