Lord, finding something that The Mom wants to eat which also won’t kill me is essentially Mission Impossible. The Mom prefers Italian food, and will take French food in a pinch, but whenever I suggest anything Asian – pho, dim sum, Thai, Japanese – she turns up her nose. Sometimes I can get her to eat Thai but then she’ll only eat spring rolls – not summer rolls, but the deep fried ones.
So when I suggested that we go for dinner with ItalianLady, I also suggested that she pick the place. Knowing me, and having taken me to the hospital for my recent aborted colonoscopy, ItalianLady is very kindly concerned with what will or will not give me a horrible stomach ache. To say she was surprised when I suggested she select an Italian place is to put it mildly.
The Mom however, well, it’s not that she doesn’t care if I get a stomach ache or not, it’s more that she’s on holiday and to be fair, I’ll probably have a stomach ache unless we eat anything beyond pho or bowls of rice. And maybe after catering to our various and unusual diets as children she’s just fed up with it and so now has decided that she’ll eat what she damned well wants and the rest of us can be damned or starve. And I get it, there’s a certain logic to it, but sometimes her fussiness can seem unreasonable.
“Ah, they have mussels in pasta here, Mom, very nice. And locally-sourced, so they’ll be quite good.”
“I don’t like mussels.”
“I don’t think you’ve ever tried them.”
“I’m not starting now.”
“Here’s a nice seafood linguine.”
“Does it have mussels?”
“Yes, but also other things.”
“Not having it.”
“They have pizza. You appear to exist entirely on a diet of pizza at home, will that do?”
“Don’t they have anything else? I like to try other things on holiday.”
“This is plainly a lie. But they have carbonara.”
“Oh, I can’t eat that because of reasons.” (I believe she gave some more substantial excuse here, but by this point I’d stopped listening).
“Okay, well, since you hardly eat anything, may I point out that the anti pasti looks good. Artichokes, fennel, salad-y things.”
“I don’t want to eat salad on holiday!”
Through gritted teeth: “The wine list looks good.”
“Oh, you know me, I’ll drink anything.”
“Right, well the other suggestion ItalianLady has made is a place that’s meatier – lots of charcuterie, little grazing type things.”
“I don’t like charcuterie.”
At this point I considered sending her through links for the menus, but sending her a DM on Skype usually ends with me spending the next 15 minutes explaining to her how to read the message, and then the font will be too small for her to read, which will require her shuffling off to find her glasses, which will take a good ten minutes, at which point I’ll have lost the will to live.
“Will I just ask ItalianLady to pick whichever one she thinks is best? She is most correct, and has good taste.”
When The Mom demurs at this point, I go in for the kill:” It’s that or we’re going for pho. No spring rolls at my favourite place. But I won’t make you get the tendon.”
“Yes, dear, why not let ItalianLady pick?”
The thing is, once we actually got to the restaurant, The Mom was overwhelmed with choices and it took her ages to make up her mind. In the end, she and I both ordered the same thing: linguine with local Devon crab and it was delicious. But The Mom of course didn’t finish hers, hardly managed to eat half of it, asked for a doggie bag, and promptly went on to pudding – and I feel I needn’t mention the patently obvious but the cake she ordered? Cleaned the plate.