Just Ten Foods

When I graduated from college my parents moved to Washington, DC. As I was looking for a job, my Dad was learning the phone business and my Mom was renovating a house we lived together in a tiny apartment in Crystal City, otherwise known as the Houston of Washington for its lack of zoning. The apartment had been the model for the building with bad corporate furniture and I slept in the coat closet by the front door. Since we all were new to the city none of us had any friends so I would leave every weekend and go visit friends who were living back home with their parents, but at least in regular sized houses.
One Sunday I returned to the apartment and found my parents sitting on the two chair balcony watching the planes land at National Airport, each scribbling things on pads of paper. “What are you doing?” I inquired. I was quickly shushed and they continued writing.  
My father broke the silence first, “Steak, cheese, potatoes, milk…”
“Milk is a drink and we already agreed that was free,” my mother interrupted.  
“Great, I have to redo my list then,” my father continued.
“Artichokes, Chicken, avocado, eggs, cheese…” My mother said.
“What are you doing?” I demanded from the only other chair inside.
I came to find out that my parents had spent the entire weekend discussing the foods they would choose if they were only allowed to eat ten things for the rest of their lives. Not just one conversation, but a whole weekend. They negotiated the milk truce and other finer points before they finally got to the list point. I thought they had really lost it, but the older I got and the longer I’ve been married, the more I understand it in a weird kind of way.
As I was eating my regular arugula, chicken, goat cheese and caramelized pear salad I thought about what my ten foods would be. It seems to me that I have practically already gotten to the state my parents were only hypothetical about. If I am alone at home I eat exactly the same foods over and over when I am trying to loose weight.  
I thought then ten foods game was a crazy one for my parents to play, but now I have fallen into living it. When I vary from my regular foods I tend to over eat and eat naughty things I know I should not. It is so much easier to make my standard salad, which I really love, but know that it does not make me crave a gooey undercooked chocolate chunk cookies or bowl of salted caramel ice cream.
As much as I like to cook for others when it comes to me alone I am satisfied to just have the regular. I wish my parents had kept their lists. I would love to see if their tastes from the early 80’s has changed or if they would have been happy with those same ten foods for the last thirty plus years.



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