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To Each His Own

Mark, Ottawa, October 2014
Mark, Ottawa, October 2014

Except for bananas, apples and berries, I don’t like many fruits. Please, don’t say “how-can-someone-not-like-(insert fruit here)??” Please, don’t worry about my diet—I’ve lived happily without eating oranges, mandarins, kiwi, peaches, pears, etc. for the past 31 years. I’m not a picky eater either and I can’t think of a vegetable I don’t like. To give you an idea, I sometime crave broccoli or carrots. Yes, crave.

I’ve never liked fruits. The texture of fruits in the citrus family and pulp gross me out, and I can’t explain why. I’d drink orange juice or grapefruit juice, though. For other fruits, like pineapple or pear, I find the taste overpowering. I’m pretty sure my parents tried to make me like fruits but since my food aversion never went away, they focused on other healthy foods I actually enjoyed.

I’ve known my in-laws for 12 years now. It’s not a secret that I don’t like fruits. It’s not a big deal, really. I buy fruits if asked to do so. I don’t leave the room when someone eats fruits, except when Feng ate clementines when I was pregnant, I really couldn’t stand the smell then. I don’t scream “murderer!” when someone slice a pineapple. I just… you know, don’t eat fruits.

And yet, every few weeks or so, depending how often I see them, my in-laws offer me fruits. They coax me into eating whatever they brought—unfortunately, it’s rarely bananas, else I would comply with their completely not subtle requests, but more likely an entire carton of mandarin oranges. I explained I didn’t like fruits as often as I tell Mark to stop touching my computer.

“But fruits are healthy!” they profess. “对身体很好.”

“So am I,” I reply.

Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.

Sometime, I wonder what they expect. Years ago, I tried to please them and take a bit of this and a bite of that. Guess what? I still wasn’t eating enough fruits.

The same conversation wouldn’t happen in France, where you can shrug and profess “des goûts et des couleurs, on ne discute pas” (“to each his own”).

French tend to respect personal preferences. They may not agree with you, they may make fun of you, but they won’t try to change your mind. French are somewhat reluctant to change anyway.

Chinese love to “correct” whatever they think is wrong. For instance, not eating fruit goes again (their) common sense, because fruits are healthy. Who cares whether you like them or not! You have to eat fruits, period.

And I noticed North Americans are good at respecting people’s like and dislikes (if I’m being French, I’d say people are a bit snowflaky with all their quirks), but that they generally emphasis on life improvements and solutions, if needed, with a positive outlook. Don’t like eating fruits? Well, have a power juice or take vitamins! Hell, dip that orange in chocolate and deep fry it—you’ll see, it tastes good! You know, like in this commercial where the parents are ecstatic because dear son and dear daughter are finally eating their veggies—as long as they are covered in an inch-thick layer of Caesar sauce. Yuck.

Shortly after Mark’s birth, I started to drink coffee. I had never been a coffee drinker but for the occasional fancy sugary latte. Unfortunately, Mark hated waiting in line at Starbucks, and I started to order whatever I could get right away without a barista working on it—black coffee on brew it was. Come to think of it, it may have been my body’s way to tell me I needed something a bit stronger than green tea… So, at the age of 30, I developed a taste for coffee. And I admit it, coffee is fucking awesome.

When I went to France for a visit, the change was hard to accept. “But you weren’t drinking coffee before?” my grand-mother asked, probably worried whether she was getting senile. “Don’t you like tea anymore?” other asked. Well, I still do… you can be both a coffee and a tea drinker, right? It was funny, this simple new taste confused everyone, as if I had changed in such deep ways that I wasn’t myself anymore.

As for my in-laws, whenever I drink coffee, they never fail to remind me that coffee is not healthy, and that I should drink tea instead, or better, hot water.

You can’t win.

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