No Two Ways About It, That’s Strange. (Part 4)

The following facts about me are important pre-requisite knowledge for reading this particular blog. Most of you will know at least two out of three, so don’t get excited.

I was a vegetarian from birth until I was 18 years old.
I have always been strictly Kosher.
I am an infuriatingly and nonsensically bad eater.

So you can probably see where I am going with this. My attitudes to food are not exactly adventurous. I generally don’t order things in restaurants unless I know every ingredient inside it, and can see as few of them as possible. Even then, I bother waiters all around north west london on a regular basis with orders such as, “I’ll have the pesto and olive pasta, without the pesto, and with lots of cheese. And y’know what? No olives.”

Generally, my tastes haven’t changed since I was a kid, with a few notable exceptions. I now force myself to try new things once in a while, I now eat salad as long as it hasn’t seen a cut up tomato, (how hard is it to leave the cherry tomatoes whole?!) and I’m an unashamed carnivore, much to my mothers dismay.

But (and here comes my point) in absolutely no world, no matter how adventurous an eater I was, or however irreligious I became, or however little I thought of the animal kingdom, could I ever fathom people who trek to a specialist candy store to purchase the below.

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Sour cream and onion Crickets. For those intrigued rather than repulsed, they also offer Chilli, and Sea Salt flavours.

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These are basically the dare-devils answer to a bag of Revels. My advice is the same for both. I would recommend not munching through a box at the cinema. Nothing worse than chomping down on an orange treat and discovering its a sneaky coffee flavoured horror. I would imagine its similar when you think you’re getting a delicious beetle and accidentally begin chewing a centipede. Imagine how terrible that would be.

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This one is by far the oddest. After all, I obviously don’t know what insects taste like, and for all I know they’re delicious. (But if you’re gonna tell me they’re ‘just like chicken’ my advice would be, eat chicken, it’s not nearly £4 a bite.)
But this isn’t even really eating an insect! It’s just a worm, inside an ordinary lollipop. So you basically are eating an extortionately expensive chupa chup, with a bug in the middle. Do you crunch down on the worm when u get near the end? Is the idea to try and keep it whole?

I don’t get it. I don’t even mean from a disgusting point of view, because I’m in the ‘animals are animals’ camp. There really is no difference in my mind between eating a cow or eating a ‘cute little rabbit’ if kosher wasn’t a factor for me. I was more shocked by the deceit than the ingredients of Tesco’s horse burgers for example.

I just don’t understand why anyone would spend a fortune to eat a bug. They can’t be filling, I don’t really believe that you can taste anything under all the chocolate or seasoning they apparently need to be palatable, and they cost about ten times the price of a regular, delicious, non creepy crawling twix bar.

So I suppose it must be a status thing. Much in the same way that men swig beer, or teenagers down tequila shots, if you have enough wasps maybe they go from horrible to bearable to quite nice really, with the added benefit that you can pat yourself on the back for being part of an elite few, part of the latest fad, part of the new sensation.

Must make you feel bad when you’re watching Pinocchio though. “Always let your conscience be your snack” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, after all.

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A Cat-astrophe? -groan-

We choose our friends based on mutual interests, shared humour, and similar personalities. The same cannot be said for family members. We would never choose a flatmate without copious interviewing, or guarentee a friendship for life without years of experiences and trust, and yet we are thrown into this world with no choice as to our housemates for the next twenty years, and our relatives for the rest of our lives. Is there any wonder that friction can and does ensue?

Sometimes we luck out. Our siblings share our sense of humour, our parents share our likes and dislikes. But what do we do when those ‘nearest and dearest’ are polar opposites to us?

Within the framework of our journey to communication, myself and my mother have been told to try to see things from each others point of view. She is currently going through a hard time with one of her pets being sick, and I am trying to be as supportive as I know how.

The problem lies in my sentence above. To her, the cats she has had for nine years are as dear to her (if not more so) than her children. She looks after them, plays with them, comforts them (and they, her) and will rearrange her time to suit their needs. To me, they are as I said, pets. Animals. However much they might be an enjoyment or hobby, they are not people, therefore not companions, not in the true sense of the word.

I have no great love for animals. Of course, I try to respect them, I shudder to see any kind of animal cruelty, and I can be awed by the sight of God’s majesty in all its forms, wildlife included. But at the age of 18, it was not a great struggle for me to give up the vegetarianism my mother had instructed on me since birth. I am not the kind of mum who is excited to take my baby to a farm, and I have been to two zoo’s in my life, and once was part of my job.

So how can I sincerely sympathise with someone to whom animals are possibly the greatest part of her life? To whom vegetarianism is almost a religion, and in fact compared my leaving it behind with my brother marrying outside of Judiasm? Who I have heard describe the emotion her cats have for her as “completely unconditional love”?

Truthfully-I cant. And that is part of this journey. We are not similar in many ways, and we will probably never get to the point where we understand each other completely, or even achieve the sense of empathy I have with some of my closest friends. Accepting this, and finding another answer, is a great challenge. All I can say to myself is, This is your mother. This is as important to her as your closest family are to you. Try and put yourself in that position and say what you would want to hear if something awful was happening. If necessary, I almost have to forget the situation itself and that to me it is ‘only’ an animal. To my mum, there is no such thing.

So another work in progress. And although I doubt I’m going to become a great animal lover in the process, I may just learn to be more understanding of others feelings.