Eating together was a huge part of my family’s social interaction. However, there were rules…which were particularly enforced by my fear-inducing Granddad.
Whenever I think back over big family social occasions when I was young all I can remember is crying at some point during a meal. I was a fussy eater and clearly worried by a lack of nutrition, my parents began to encourage me to eat different vegetables. This would always bring about a physical rejection of said item, which inevitably led to strong words, disappointment and a distraught me.
My Granddad’s strict table etiquette was suffered by all. A more relaxed dining approach was clearly in play during the 1990’s…my parents talked to their children during dinner. But my Granddad didn’t accept this notion willingly. On many occasion – lunch and dinner on a Sunday – one of us grandchildren would have done the wrong thing. My Grandfather had such a presence that a simple look could make us crumble…and usually did.
And so began my fear of the table. By the time I was twelve all I would eat during a Sunday roast was potato and chicken. I had entered a spiral of anxiety lacking self confidence to try different foods. I realise now that it was making different friends (from different backgrounds) between the ages of seventeen to twenty-one that really altered my attitude to trying different food. A change in culture, experiencing different places replaced fear with excitement. And now I have a literal hunger to try different dishes.