Zionsville Times Sentinel

October 11, 2012

Breaking bread

By Amy Rodriguez/Times Sentinel columnist

— Youngest had her first play date a few weeks ago after school.

As I had with her sisters before, I went over the list of proper behavior if one wishes to be invited for another visit. Simple things like not jumping on the furniture, using good manners, etc. I told her that only quiet, well behaved children get invited back. She said she understood, so I left her for the roughly hour and a half for which she had been invited.

When I went to get her, all was quiet in the house, so I was feeling pretty hopeful that it went well. Then the mom said to me, “I understand you don’t eat processed food.” She was smiling, but I wanted to run out to my car and drive off. Instead I told her that we do eat some processed food, but for the most part have eliminated it from our diets. Then I asked what happened.

Apparently, the mom had prepared dinner for the family and Youngest informed her that she couldn’t eat the macaroni and cheese because it was processed. I wanted to kick myself for having neglected to tell Youngest that no matter what they serve you to eat, you eat it, smile and say thank you when you’re done rule.

Fortunately, the mom wasn’t offended and there are already more play dates on the calendar. The incident did get me to thinking about some of the times I had to follow the eat no matter what they serve you rule.

One time, when I was in about the fifth-grade, I stayed with a fairly new friend for the first time. Her mom served brussels sprouts. I loathe brussels sprouts. Knowing my mother would kill me if she found out that I hadn’t been polite, and also knowing that she most assuredly would find out, I choked those sprouts down and thanked the mother for dinner. Seriously, though, who cooks vegetables for dinner when friends are over?

Another time, in high school, a friend’s mom cooked dinner for us when I stayed over. Bless her heart, but that woman could not cook. What was an attempt at chipped beef gravy turned out more like a bland paste making perfectly good meat almost inedible. I am so glad that my teenaged self recognized that it was awfully nice for anyone to welcome me into their home and prepare a meal. I ate it, then thanked her — and I meant it.

There have been other times over the years that I have had to eat things as a dinner guest that I would rather not, but those two times were the hardest. Kind of makes me wonder how many times my dinner guests have had to smile and choke down what I have prepared. I know my kids don’t like everything I cook because they don’t even try to be nice. I am hopeful that they have learned the lesson about being nice and thanking the cook anyway. At the very least, Youngest has now heard the lecture. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to give it.

Amy Rodriguez is a writer living in Hendricks County. You can read more of her work at rubymay1029.blogspot.com.