t one time or another we all think about our epitaph, the words we’ll put on our tombstones to make visitors who knew us smirk and let out a knowing, “Ha.”
As a hyper-planner, I already have mine ready: “Eleonora Saravalle, Daughter, Friend, Picky Eater.”
Over the years people have become increasingly fascinated by my food rules. To make visiting my grave easier and more entertaining, I thought I’d explain them.
What I hate most is when something of one state of matter touches another in a way that’s not specifically designated by the recipe. For instance, water has no business finding its way onto a digestive biscuit. The biscuit turns to mush, which is not its desired texture. Someone will invariably say, “But Nora, there’s water in the biscuit to start with!”
Fine. You have intestines inside you. That doesn’t mean you want visible on the outside, right? (If you do, stop reading now.)
I do make exceptions. Foods of different states of matter are allowed to touch if both sides emerge enhanced. Steak may touch Béarnaise sauce. And, while I don’t like it myself, cookies are permitted to touch milk.
I’m opened minded. I don’t issue executive orders. I recognize different people have different tastes. I’m even willing to take your tastes under advisement.
My next rule is about tainting, which might sound like more of the same but isn’t. For instance, mashed potatoes change the consistency of meat, which means they the two should never touch. Not so with roast potatoes, since they don’t compromise the integrity of the meat. Again, roles and destination is important. Chocolate sauce may flood soufflé but meat juice should not be allowed to wilt a salad.
The next big category is temperature. Generally speaking, foods of different temperatures should not mix. Why let fresh, crunchy kale become a sad pile of green because of the heat generated by underlying pasta? Bad idea.
I can accept chicken rubbing up against lettuce in a Caesar’s salad but only if the salad is consumed quickly. Beware of letting it sit too long.
Next there’s the matter of utensils. The same utensils should not be used to consume two different dishes. How, for example, can people even consider applying the same fork they used on pasta with tomato sauce to their steak? Give each food a fair chance to be itself. Don’t corrupt it.
I haven’t mentioned drinks, or glasses and cups, but they’re in the same category as utensils. Mixing is out. After finishing your milk, get a fresh cup. Don’t pour your water where your milk was. Give your water an ego boost — it deserves its own glass.
By now you’re probably thinking that I’m the high maintenance sort. “I don’t want that girl on my farm,” you’re saying. You’d be wrong. I once worked in a barn where I scrubbed 100-gallon water tubs free of algae. I may be odd, but I’m game.