I recently found myself discussing a contentious subject with a friend. We were talking about our favourite foods, but more specifically, our preferred fruits and vegetables. As harmless as this may seem, the topic became an issue of serious debate.
As expected, when discussing fruits and vegetables you love, the nature of conversation will veer towards comparing things you hate. The usual suspects were mentioned: mushrooms, tomatoes, avocados, and beetroot, to name a few. In my experience, these are just a handful of common fruits and vegetables, which force people into something of a ‘marmite effect’ state: you either love them or hate them.
After a while, we established my friend can’t stand celery, but likes mushrooms, whereas, I am the complete opposite.
However, a mutual friend of ours cannot and will not touch anything associated with mushrooms. Her abhorrence for earth’s edible fungi is so severe that she will refuse to eat anything, if a mushroom has so much as lightly grazed its edges! Mushrooms are her deal breakers and any food is guilty by association.
After such an extreme revelation, I chose that moment to mention my dislike of strawberries. My confession was met with a raised eyebrow. ‘You mean you’re allergic to strawberries.’ She wasn’t asking me…she was correcting me. I had forgotten most people find it peculiar that I don’t like strawberries.
‘No.’ I sighed. ‘I don’t like them. If I eat one, I only end up spitting it out.’
Silence followed, only to be broken by my friend’s expletives. ‘What the f**k is wrong with you? Strawberries are amazing! They’re so sweet and juicy!’ She looked disgusted, as if I had just told her I enjoyed kicking cute, little puppies for giggles.
‘There’s nothing wrong with me! I just don’t like them!’ But still, I felt I needed to mollify her distrust of my anti-strawberry lifestyle, ‘I do like the how they smell…very summery!’ She was not remotely convinced.
What was odd was not my friend’s reaction, but rather my inattentiveness to the situation. Usually I hide my ‘freakishness’ very well. I usually just say, ‘yes I am allergic’, but I had forgotten the fundamental rule of food-ism: strawberries have official and diplomatic immunity from all negativity. Even if you are allergic, people still tend to look at you with extreme sympathy, as if you were some pathetic half-creature, who could never live a full and wholesome life.
Amusingly, it is the singular phenomenon of ‘the excuse process’, which is most entertaining. This happens when disbelieving people need to formulate some form of an excuse on my behalf to appease whatever deific strawberry exists. For example, Mighty O believes I was traumatised as a child by a strawberry – perhaps strawberry picking outing went badly awry – and I have suppressed the memory deep into my subconscious. His latest theory is that I am suffering from an undisclosed, mental disorder, which has yet to be diagnosed, (or admitted by the subject); hence I cannot be held accountable for my choices.
Other friends have tried to further develop my apparent psychosis:
- A phobia of seeds and pips
- Distrust of red foods (!)
- A phobia of berries or anything with ‘berry’ in the name (e.g. raspberry, strawberry, loganberry etc)
- A need to be different from the masses
- Head trauma
My Aussie ex-flatmate found it so bizarre that someone who lives in such close proximity to strawberries could refute them! She then went on to tell me her sob story of how expensive they are in Australia and if she could buy them for as cheap as British people could, she’d literally be swimming in them! I think I just looked bored at the suggestion.
You’d think after all these years, I had learnt my lesson. Still when I gather the courage to tell people, whom I think I can trust, that I don’t like or eat strawberries, their reactions still leave me perplexed! Alas, I’m too trusting and honest by nature. I keep thinking we live in a fair and democratic society, where people are celebrated for their differences…not victimised. Oops! Who am I trying to kid?