Foremost, I’d like to say that I’m not a fussy eater, I love food. If you ask my friends, they might even say I love food a bit too much. But I do have a thing about textures, love food, hate the feel. It’s a bit of a rock and a hard place for someone who wakes up in the morning planning their meals and checks every menu before even going to a new café.
As a result of this, I’ve spent years trying to get over my ‘texture thing’. I’ve tried homegrown exposure therapy i.e. forcing myself to eat things that knock me sick until they literally knock me sick. I feel like I’m on I’m A Celebrity but instead of a fermented penis or whatever horror they’ve chosen, it’s a courgette. Pathetic, I know.
I try and avoid these episodes by vehemently lying about food allergies to strangers, which might make me a terrible person, but it’s easier in my early twenties to say no to food because you’re allergic rather than launch into a long-winded explanation of your body’s response to certain textures in your mouth. Backed up with harrowing childhood memories of bad food stories.
So, I am now here to speak my truth, that is to give you all one very visceral, and very much final account of how I feel when I eat, what could be the most beloved British fruit: the strawberry. And once it’s out in the open maybe I can try and get some closure, and everyone can leave me alone.
‘At first sight, the thing makes me break out in sweats, my hands start to shake, and my heart is pounding. It is small, about the size of my nose and the vile thing taunts me with its smallness. So small that I shouldn’t have an issue with it. Small enough, that in one chew it could slide down my gullet and land in my stomach before I could complain. Yet, I take issue with it.
I take issue with the colour of it. Such a red shouldn’t be out in the world, it belongs inside me and every living creature. Not in this little plant that grows on the ground. That red courses through my veins and gives me life. In my opinion, anyone eating it surely has some repressed vampire-like tendencies that are unresolved. But perhaps that is at the crux of it eating sweetened solidified bloody flesh, just isn’t appealing to me.
Speaking of flesh, and blood. I can’t say I enjoy the way that it gushes this blood into my mouth from the smallest nibble. It’s a tsunami, overwhelming me with a supposedly delightful flavour. But all I can think about is blood, and raw meat, and how I absolutely should not have this thing in my mouth.
It’s little seeds I can only liken to tiny bones crunching under my teeth. They fill my mouth, sliding between my gums, along my tongue. It’s an indefinite amount, surely less than a thousand but that’s what it feels like to me. I’m crushing the thousands of potential plant babies in my teeth, its abhorrent, genocide, I can hear them screaming with every chew.
Or are they blackheads, residing in the tiny skin like pores that cover this fruit. Do they leave the skin every time I chew, in the same way as those oil deposits leave my skin with every squeeze? I feel like they do.
My ‘safeguard’? Retching. I must expel this foul thing, this Strawberry.’
I hope you have managed to experience some level of trauma reading this. Next time your friend tells you they don’t like something, leave it out. Just food for thought.
Artwork by Ian Mastin