Food for Real People – Food Cravings Part 1

Food cravings are like some unknown force inside poking at you, poking at you. While it’s strange that someone can mention Thai food and right then and there I will know within a week I will have to have Thai food, real food cravings are something altogether different.

I’ve had my share. There was a time beginning when I was a teenager when the Potato Chip Girl inside ran my world more often than I like to admit. When I was in my twenties I surmised that heaven was a room filled with Lay’s potato chips and me in the corner munching my way, guilt free, fat free and never full, towards the door.

Recently I had a small bag of plain Lay’s – my long-ago favorites – to which I can honestly say “Meh.” Is it possible I’ve gotten enough calcium or chloride in my system that I don’t crave them anymore? Or did my taste buds age moving on to more refined and flavorful needs?

When I was very young I craved sour. Dill pickles and their juice. I was young during the time when dad’s came home from work, loosened their ties and mixed a martini. More times than not, my father would find the tall, thin jar of olives that was full only yesterday now empty but for the two I would save him. That’s what he used in his daily martini. I would drink the juice and leave the olives and no one knew how those two called to me from their spot on the door of the refrigerator.

When I was twelve a girl moved in across the street who shared the same strange taste for sour. Having a quarter between us didn’t mean we’d cash in on candy but we’d buy two enormous dill pickles and sit on the short concrete wall between the plaza and the park and munch and suck and chew the dilly afternoon away. She and I used to drink vinegar. We imagined that’s what whiskey tasted like and we’d throw a shot down, slam the glass on the table and wince like the toughest guy on TV.

That need for sour lasted about thirty years and was followed by five years or so where I was repulsed by the thought of sour. The last jar of pickles I bought before the craving left me stayed in the back of my fridge for years where it didn’t spoil but just radiated its intrinsic green-ness. The pickles didn’t make my mouth water and I couldn’t reach for the jar without something inside turning green a little bit on its own. In a cleaning frenzy I finally threw them away.

Now I occasionally eat pickles or use dill relish. I have found that green olives from the olive bar at the health food store add a nice touch to a salad. But my mouth doesn’t salivate at the thought of sour, I don’t find myself digging a forefinger into that tall, thin jar or raiding the apple cider vinegar. What’s up with that? What do people have food cravings? Where do they go? Can you control them? Or do they control you?

What do you crave? Stay tuned while I try to answer some of these questions in the next few blogs about Food for Real People – Food Cravings.

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