– Come on, honey, this one is for Mommie. – my grandmother held the fork in front of my mouth in expectation. I opened my mouth bravely. – Good job! Now this one is for Daddy.
She picked another piece from my plate and made me eat it. I hated it. Not only the taste of the lamb but also the game she was playing in order to make me eat it. Every bite was named after a family member, so if you love the person, you have to eat it. Even back then, at the age of five I knew I was not just eating food, I was accepting her love and giving her mine in return.
25 years later I was crying in my own kitchen, hiding from everyone. The reason was that my husband didn’t finish his dinner. I knew, I was being ridiculous, which is why I was hiding, but I couldn’t help this crazy feeling in my chest. An ancient feeling, I should say. A feeling, that was passed on to me by my grandmother, who got it from her mother, who got it from hers… The feeling born from the belief, that women give and receive love through food.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love food. I love cooking it, eating it and sharing it with family and friends. But the enormous emotional load it carries is just dangerous and unnecessary.
I guess noone plays this game in Bulgaria any more, but the cultural concept that contains it is still existent. Can you find it in your culture?