Thursday, August 22, 2013

tandoori trauma

After I came off my restrictive diet earlier this year, I realised how many of my pantry items I neglected and how close they were to expiry. Driven by an odd urge to ‘not waste food’, I overzealously researched and made a list of all the recipes I could and would cook in order to use up these neglected items. Over 2 weeks, I panicked and pondered at insensible hours of the day. Luckily, this obsession was short-lived. While I still prefer to not waste food, I’m okay with chucking things in the compost and letting food rot. Thank goodness this passed quickly!

One of these neglected items was a jar of tandoori paste. I found some recipes for tandoori baked vegetables that sounded delicious. I chopped up firm tofu, zuchinni, mushrooms, capsicum and onion. I also added finely grated garlic and ginger. I marinated all ingredients with a small tub of yoghurt, some lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of tandoori paste and some spices including smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. I added spices for authenticity because I felt guilty taking a short cut and using paste. It was probably a redundant addition.
After marinating the ingredients for a couple of hours, I baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes. The whole house unmistakably smelt like tandoori.

I forgot to cook rice so I had the tandoori dish with a slice of bread… WOW it was hot hot HOT. I didn’t eat much that day so after two mouthfuls, my stomach became really uncomfortable from the heat of the spices and from bloating (I was sculling water and milk at the same time). I probably used too much of tandoori paste/spices.

It was a bit full on. Even though I’ve got 5 leftover servings of tandoori, I’m avoiding it. This makes me think – there are heaps of people who have had a bad experience with certain foods and avoid these foods for years and maybe their whole lives. This may sound like ‘I don’t like the taste of [certain food] so I will take it out of my dish’ or ‘I don’t like what [certain food] does to my body, but it’s not like I’m intolerant to it or will die if I eat it’ or ‘I had a bad experience with [certain food] once, so I don’t want to eat it’. Rarely do people make the effort to re-eat the food and dissociate their bad experience from the food.

It’s normal for people to have bad or traumatic experiences with food then develop preferences for some foods over others. On a tangent… maybe you can replace food with other necessary aspects of life, such as relationships, shelter, sleep etc. If a person has a traumatic/bad experience with one of these, is it normal to avoid certain aspects of these things?

6 years ago, I had a traumatic period where I experienced a sudden breakup (with deception, lies, manipulation) and the sudden/accidental death of my best friend. Today, when I’m reminded of particular things about the past (stressors), I respond oddly. I become hyper vigilant or freeze or freak out. This doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily break down if someone asks me about the past but I'd get uncomfortable if I feel like these events are replaying themselves in a different format. It's inevitable that these memories will arise in my everyday life, but after some time, it gets difficult to manage. I need to strip it down to basics again and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel vulnerable at times.

When I think about it, people avoid certain types of food and I try to avoid certain types of people/events/scenarios. It’s about self-preservation and knowing what’s good for you. If it’s okay for someone to avoid lemons because they are sour, it should be okay for me to feel uncomfortable with people who are super secretive etc or to always have a back-up plan if my closest friends/family aren’t there for me when I need them the most. 

It’s not like I’ve been living like a hermit in fear for the past 6 years. And I’m not saying that once you’ve had a bad experience with a partner/close friend, avoid relationships at all costs. I’ve actively tried to rebuild myself over time and confront my fears. I’ve done quite well until things re-emerged in the past couple of years. Anyway, I wanted to vent about this because I’m trying to overcome my guilt and self-judgment and want people to know in some vague hope that I'll be able to cope better in the future... it gets more complicated but maybe that’s for another time. I realise there are people who are going to be judgmental and not understanding. But think about how you’d react if you were forced to eat that food that you’ve hated for ages.

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