Perhaps everyone recalls episodes from their childhood that seem so dear now, but were detested at the time in which they were actually occurring. As of late,Â I am beginning to remember many moments from my youth, specifically thoseÂ revolving around food, but not all were loathsome even then. I nostalgically rememberÂ the image of my mother in our small, colorful kitchen. SheÂ did not hesitate to share her knowledge of food, but she also did notÂ make a performance of it. It was usually in subtle ways, like cleaning spinach leaves on both sides under running water, with an explanation that bugs like to hide on the underside of the leaf, where I would learn about spinach and how she was going to prepare it. Did Popeye also have to wash his spinach, I would inquire, but there was not always time for all of my questions.
I thrived when this knowledge was shared with me, which I am sure I made a game out of as my imagination ran wild with almost anything. I held a secret from the adult world, although I do not know how much of secret it could have been, as I rather enjoyed boasting about my newly acquiredÂ facts. Leeks should be cleaned thoroughly because they grow in sandy soil, and eating sand makes your teeth grind, which is very unsatisfactory for everyone, I wouldÂ constantly note,Â mimickingÂ my mother’s cautious tone as best I could. I took heed to this warning myself, andÂ had ingrained in my mind a previously calamitousÂ mealÂ of sandy, overcooked beets (which I was alreadyÂ repulsed byÂ to begin with), and did not wish to recreate the catastrophe. Â But leeks on the other hand, I always adored and dutifully ate in all of their presentedÂ states.Â My fascination was mostly founded inÂ the old wives’ taleÂ that if you ate the center of the leek (the stalk), you would becomeÂ deaf.
I loved superstitions, and most of all, breaking them. I proudly remember eating fish and dairy at the same time. Lest I forget, this resulted in others following my lead, and disruptions on at least two family tables of what had previously been calm, weekly fish dinners without dairy. But something about going deafÂ made me resist the temptation of the leeks. Let me elucidate, yes- a small part of meÂ stillÂ wanted to try it, and would practice the worst outcome. IÂ began often by cuppingÂ my ears with my hands to imagine going deaf, or plugging them up with my index fingers, but I could still hear birds chirping or cars going by. Most terrifyingly, I could hear my invariableÂ heartbeat thumping. I could not, for all the imaginative worlds that I created, see one without the ability of sound. So I made sure to clean leeks well, and remove the middle part, if there was one. But I would not bite into one, no matter the pressure of fellow peers. I am being chary, I would tell anyone who asked, in a state of angst and mortification.Â I would vanquishÂ other superstitions, but not this one, and each time I cook leeks, I am reminded of this memory.