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Everybody Eats - A Mom and Daughter Food Tale

Published: 2021-03-05
Author: Tsara Shelton | Contact: tsara@disabled-world.com

Synopsis: An article by Tsara Shelton in regards to an invitation she and her mom received to write for Eat, Darling, Eat, a website that publishes stories submitted by women around the world.

Main Digest

I am not a foodie. I'm not much interested in food, particularity not how food tastes, or how it's presented. I've never had much interest in the history of a dish. Because of this I have spent a lot of years foolishly thinking of myself as someone who doesn't care about, and has no feelings surrounding, food.


In Other News:


But, no no no no no. that is not true at all.

Recently my mom and I were invited to write for Eat, Darling, Eat, a website that publishes stories submitted by women around the world. Meaningful retellings of moments and ideas shared around meals.

Actually, my mom was invited to write a story and she kinda fed them the idea of including a story from me - a mother and daughter story site with stories from a mother and daughter. Admittedly, it is a delicious idea.

But I was hesitant. I mean, I don't care about food, right? Mom tried to teach me to like soup, a brilliant brew that can be simultaneously used for leftovers, nutrition, and soul food. Unlike my mom and sister, I just never much liked it. Mom tried to teach me to close my eyes and imagine tastes on my tongue, swirl them around to delight in the flavors belonging only to me before excitedly gathering the real things and mixing up a meal that can be shared. She tried to teach me, she exampled it beautifully, but I preferred to get a plate of cheese and crackers while crunching on celery.

Yet, I do care. About food, and about stories. Particularly stories that center around the women in my family. So, I agreed.

Funnily enough, at first I was a little annoyed my mom had already written her story (a spectacularly written memory of my mom and her sister attempting to please my grandma by clearing a plate of her famously disliked Tomato Aspic) and my job would now be to write something that tied into her story, that complemented it in flavor and tone. Mom lead me into a situation where I would have to swirl flavors around for myself in order to serve up a story to share with everyone. Well done, mom!

So I sat down to write a story about food and my family. And, well, there are so many stories I could write! I may not be a foodie but, surprise surprise, food has played a huge role in my life. In my family's life.

Author Tsara Shelton (left) and her mother Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad) enjoy a coffee together in the kitchen.
Author Tsara Shelton (left) and her mother Lynette Louise (The Brain Broad) enjoy a coffee together in the kitchen.

I have major memories of mom baking strawberry-rhubarb pie while smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee. My little sister and I would watch her move gracefully in the kitchen, baking from scratch and singing to us. She'd roll imagined flavors around in her mouth and know precisely what to add to the pie. And though the pie wasn't exactly the same each time, each time it was the best pie.

A few years later, after mom had adopted all four of my brothers and terms like "autism" and "fetal alcohol syndrome" and "learning disabled" became commonplace in our home, if not easily understood, I learned to love the care and commitment behind the nutrition in every single bite and ingredient of our meals. More than that, I learned to ask where our food came from and how it was grown. Those years mom almost never left the kitchen, feeding six kids on a macrobiotic diet - a diet that insists every ingredient be close to its natural state and locally grown - meant a lot of chopping, pounding, mixing, steaming; everything from scratch and nothing too easy. Also, my brothers all struggled with various eating disorders or food reactions so even if mom wasn't cooking she was sitting with them, encouraging and insisting they get nutrition in their bodies. She was paying attention to them in order to deduce who was reacting in what way to which food, and working to find ways to get the necessary nutrients in them without pushing their little bodies too hard. It was during those years that I started to notice what my friends were eating. Their school lunches had me asking questions about their cultures and religions. Their food reactions or allergies. After school some of my peers would walk to a nearby convenience for junk snacks.Interesting, I'd think,other families are allowed to eat junk. Also:they have spending money.

And a few years later, after my mom had gotten legal custody of two girls, my newest sisters, now a home with one single mom, four teen girls and four elementary school aged boys, the kitchen became a place for chores and food bank foods infused with healthy ingredients. Mom still did most of the cooking - one pot wonders and soups were her specialty; healthy things mixed together with spices and onions in a big ol' pot on the stove - but now we kids were expected to also cook, clean, and make school lunches. Our buddy system worked well, one teen girl would be buddied up with one little brother. We were expected to expect them to be able to learn skills which, when your brothers have various disabilities, is a valuable skill itself. Learning to believe in others regardless of appearances, while learning also to adapt for their challenges. Time in the kitchen with a buddy could be frustrating but it was always an important opportunity. (One I wish I had taken better advantage of as a big sister. Often I did my best to get out of it. However, my mom is not a fool. Often she also said, "Oh, you have plans? Take your brother!") But I did notice the importance of how we work together in the kitchen, and what it did for us as a family. I payed attention, also, to how other families did or didn't work together, and how that appeared to play out for their families.

Much later, as I became a mom myself, I noticed how little I seemed to learn from all of this. My mom was an everyone-sits-together-at-the-table kind of mom. Not me. I liked my boys and I to eat together, but often we did so in front of a movie. Or in a mess on the floor while playing with toys. Also, my mom made sure we ate everything on our plates before we could ask to be excused from the table. My sons, on the other hand, knew they could eat till they didn't want anymore as long as they didn't expect me to make them something else later. And nobody asked to be excused from the table because we were rarely sitting at it. And meals? I pretty much made spaghetti or cheese and crackers or sandwiches for every meal. I cared about nutrition so I read ingredients on labels and made sure all food groups were represented (my cheese and crackers always included a vegetable, so ha! Healthy!) but I rarely made food from scratch. I read directions more than recipes.

My poor mom. She taught me better than that.

Meals with a movie? Foods from a box? Leftovers on the plates? That's not how I grew up.

But I did grow up caring about food and the kitchen. And I brought that with me as a mom. I cared about how the foods were grown and what the ingredients were. Later I cared which food companies I gave my grocery money to, how they treated the environment and their employees. I cared how my sons reacted to being fed what I fed them, and I encouraged them to feed themselves when they were hungry.

As all this came flooding to mind I decided I was grateful to mom for having already written her story, helping me whittle down my ideas to something that incorporated and included hers. I mean, my goodness! For a non-foodie I have a lot of thoughts and memories about food!

When I take a moment to visit the site we wrote for, Eat, Darling, Eat, it is clear that I am not alone. Everybody eats. Everybody has memories of food and figuring it out. What we like, how to budget for it, how we feel about it, and how we move away from our mother's kitchens into our own.

About the Author

Tsara Shelton, author of Spinning in Circles and Learning From Myself, is a contributing editor to Disabled World. Tsara also runs our sister site SexualDiversity.org, a popular web site focused on a diverse range of sexuality topics. Tsara's personal blog can be found at tsarashelton.com. You can also keep up to date with Tsara's latest posts by following her on Twitter.

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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Tsara Shelton. Electronic Publication Date: 2021-03-05. Title: Everybody Eats - A Mom and Daughter Food Tale, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/tsara/everybody.php>Everybody Eats - A Mom and Daughter Food Tale</a>. Retrieved 2021-07-27, from https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/blogs/tsara/everybody.php - Reference: DW#524-13932.