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IKEA, Apples and Cravings

IKEA, Ottawa, November 2014
IKEA, Ottawa, November 2014

“Poor him… it’s tough for kids to wait!” the lady in front of us commiserates.

“Uh, uh,” I reply, holding Mark’s hand to make sure he doesn’t skip the line. “I think he doesn’t mind. He wanted to come here, and he chose to line up. Apparently, he has a craving.”

“A craving?”

“Yes, for apples.”

“Oh honey,” the woman smiles, kneeling to Mark’s level. “Do you want a slice of the delicious apple pie?”

“No,” I replied for Mark, who is now hiding behind my legs. “Not the apple pie, just apples. You know, apple wedges. They sell small bags of them.”

The woman looks at Mark and me as if we were crazy. Yes, I have a kid who craves apples. The very same apples we have at home, the very same wedges he ate in the car when we picked him up from school an hour ago.

But we only sliced one apple, and he wants more. More specifically, he wants IKEA’s apples. This is why, on a cold and dark Friday night, we are queuing behind thirty hungry shoppers at Ottawa’s hottest and finest restaurant—IKEA’s cafetaria.

Fuck my life.

A week ago, we went to IKEA and Mark asked for a bag of apple slices. I think I bought him one, once. I think I even claimed it was “McDonald’s apples” so that he would eat them and be quiet for a bit. Anyway, that time, when I saw the line up at the cafeteria, I said “non” and dragged a very unhappy Mark to another part of the store to pick up what I needed, a new pillow and a warm duvet.

Last Friday, we took Mark to Chapters. When he saw the bright IKEA sign, across the parking lot, he started chanting “IKEA, IKEA!” This is the largest IKEA in Canada, it’s hard to miss the 37,000 square metres store or pretend it doesn’t exist. So we ended up at IKEA. And sure enough, as soon as we stepped onto the escalator, he led me to the food court.

“Apples. Apples.”

Like the previous time, there was a long line up. Apparently, 6:30 p.m. is the time when the entire city of Ottawa craves lukewarm Swedish meatballs and portions of fish & chips.

I tried to walk away but Mark wouldn’t let me. I looked at Feng. We shrugged.

“We gonna have to queue. For a long time. And I’m not carrying you.”


So we queued and I bought a kids’ meal that comes with mashed potatoes, four meatballs, a bottle of juice, a small yogurt—and yes, a bag of apple slices.

Mark queued patiently. This kid is stubborn and he knows what he wants. As soon as I grabbed the bag of apples from the shelf, he kissed me. Not just once, but several times.

It doesn’t take much to “wow” a toddler.

We sat at a table and I let Mark practice using a fork with the meatballs. He ate his plate, had some juice, dropped some yogurt on his relatively clean sweater. A normal meal.

He was full and didn’t eat the apple slices. I took them home and put them in the fridge. Next time we go out, I’ll pretend I’ve just bought them. This little trick works at Starbucks too—he always asks for a small juice carton with a straw and I pretend I buy one, whereas in fact, I buy packs of them in bulk at the supermarket (a much cheaper option) and carry them in my bag.

Note to self—I need a bigger bag.

I don’t give in to every tantrum but I kind of understand food cravings. I’m the same.

I go through phases where I really want something. The famous “celery addiction” when I was pregnant, a particular brand of cookies, oatmeal, a specific yogurt flavour, a dish. Sometime I crave something creamy, sometime I need hot spices. This summer, at one point, I realized I hadn’t had a hot meal in weeks—I kept on making variations of my summer salad with avocado/bell peppers/bean curd/tuna/eggs/carrots/broccoli/jalapeños!

Then, eventually, the craving stops and I start another “addiction”.

Mark went through several phases too. He used to love bananas, fruit purée pouches and grapes. In China, he was addicted to a small berry-like fruit (no English equivalent). I didn’t know what it was, until I discovered the small sweet bread I often bought was made with the same fruit—I guess we have similar tastes!

I can walk across town to buy something I crave. Hell, I’m sure I have done that.

Do you have cravings? What’s your latest food addiction?

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