Saturday, February 25, 2006


Okay, so I know I have a recent post that argues, with the help of the Popeye Soundtrack, that "Everything Is Food," but in fact that is not true.

Everything is NOT food!

When I was young, it took me about five new boxes of Crayola's to remember that the purple crayon DID NOT taste like grape, and, moreover, it was NOT edible. I somehow knew the other crayons were not for consumption, but that purple crayon...oh man was it seductive! It REALLY looked grapey-delicious, and somehow I always ended up going for it. Crayons are a nasty thing to put in one's mouth: they are waxy and slightly bitter and it is WORK getting the chewed up bits out of one's teeth.
Lesson learned, purple crayon!

Another childhood indulgence was Play-Doh. Now hear me out: Play-Doh is actually quite edible, but it is not FOOD, per se. I took a little trip to the Play-Doh website and found this bit of useful information:

"The exact ingredients of PLAY-DOH compound are proprietary, so we cannot share them with you. We can tell you that it is primarily a mixture of water, salt and flour. It does NOT contain peanuts, peanut oil, or any milk byproducts. It DOES contain wheat. PLAY-DOH compound is non-toxic, non-irritating & non-allergenic except as noted: Children who are allergic to wheat gluten may have an allergic reaction to this product."

Thank goodness I had no allergies, because unbeknownst to my parents I was stuffing a lot of Play-Doh into my young piehole. It was salty and soft and not necessarily delicious but the colors were appetizing enough to make up for it. My mother used to make a homemade version of Play-Doh as well, using flour, cornstarch, water, and food coloring, and I remember nibbling on this as well.
Lesson learned, Play-Doh!

I have tasted all manner of non-foods. Hey, I grew up with dogs and older brothers; it was bound to happen. I remember my older brother Shane presenting me with what looked like a snack of delicious cheese and crackers. As I bit down, however, the cracker was impossibly hard. I could not get through it but continued to try. Shane, after laughing at me for about five minutes, admitted the "cracker" was in fact an Alpo Snap dog biscuit. I wish I could say that his admission stopped me from biting it, but it didn't. I continued to gnaw on the Snap, in an attempt to break through it. By that point it had become a challenge to my nascent adult teeth, and I was ready to take it. Take it and lose, folks. I may be a bitch but I am no dog; this fact was proven at around age 10.
Lesson learned, Alpo Snaps!

But the best non-food material that has ever crossed my lips and entered my digestive tract isn't a Crayola or Play-Doh or an Alpo Snap. It is tree pulp.

Yes: tree pulp.

One of my earliest and most favorite non-food-eating experiences was the result of my parents removing an incredibly large tree from our backyard. It was an amazing thing to witness as a six year old: watching this enormous tree get completely destroyed in sections by the buzz of a saw...its demise has become fixed in my memory because it was so sad. Or maybe it's just sad to me now. Because at the time, I wasn't so much as saddened by it as made curious. As the freshly cut tree parts lay in rounds on our lawn, my twin sister Sybil and I couldn't help but explore them. And, as everyone knows, when you're a child you tend to explore things with your entire person, including your mouth. Well, the tree pulp was moist and pale like white chicken meat, and Sybil and I really believed it was chicken. And so we ate it. We would go outside and pick at the tree meat and put it in our mouths. And I remember feeling like it was the most delicious food that I had ever eaten, because it was so fresh and pure and mild. And we didn't get sick from it, either. Because we were children, and childhood is a magical time where our imaginations protect us from the dangers of reality. Sometimes.

I love that I ate from that tree and I wonder what part of me the tree fed and what part of me the tree became and I love that some part of me is part of that tree because we should all always carry the best parts of our youth with us, permanently. I am the tree, the tree is me. I want it to be like this forever.

And now I am back to my original point, and so I've changed my mind.

Everything IS food. It is! May it ever be.


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