Peas and Corn

Frozen-Peas-and-Corn Do you consider yourself to be a fairly mature, rational person–that is, until something you do or say proves completely otherwise?

I’ve had to face this realization about myself in the frozen food aisle. Twice.

And also behind the wheel of my car. All too frequently.

But first let’s talk about frozen foods.

For a number of years, my sister and I have taken annual vacations together, bringing along various friends and family members who are able and willing to come with us. When her sons were younger, we rented summer camps, first on nearby Oneida Lake and then at Brennan Beach on Lake Ontario. Later we took a few trips to different parts of Florida, and for the past several years we’ve rented oceanfront beach houses in North Carolina.

We have always been very close, my sister and I. Although like many siblings, we fought like cats when we were younger, our adult vacations have been pretty much drama-free; in fact, these trips give us time to bond that we don’t often get during the rest of the year.

Once settled into our beach house, we make a trip to the nearby Food Lion for groceries. Now when I say I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to food, that’s a monumental understatement. Oh. there are things I don’t like, but I’m far from being a fussy eater, so I’m usually like, “That sounds good,” or “That works for me” when my sister or others make menu suggestions.

Until, it seems, we get to frozen vegetables.

Now, to give you some perspective, my four siblings and I grew up in a household where pretty much the only vegetables we ate were peas and corn, probably because my mother knew they were the only veggies the five of us could agree on. Occasionally we had spinach, wax beans or green beans. But mostly it was peas and corn.

Once I was on my own, I discovered the wide and wonderful world of yummy vegetables outside of my limited realm of experience–carrots, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, peppers, etc., etc., etc.–and that garden salads could consist of so much more than iceberg lettuce.

fresh

I happily sampled a wide variety and, except for my long-term reluctance to try Brussels sprouts {which I’ve since overcome) and a continued aversion to beets and lima beans (eww–OK, I can deal with lima beans in a bag of mixed vegetables), I crave variety in my veggie intake. I love them steamed, grilled, stir-fried and sauteed, or in baked dishes like stuffed peppers and ratatouille, and I always buy them fresh or frozen, never canned.

I continue to eat spinach and wax or green beans now and then. But I’ve left peas and corn off my personal menu unless they are part of a veggie mix, or the occasional corn on the cob.

So there we are, on vacation, in the frozen food aisle–my sister B.J., my brother Jim, and I–and it was time to pick out some vegetables to include with our upcoming meals. Now my brother is a tad (understatement) more fussy when it comes to food in general and, I quickly learned, vegetables in particular, as he wrinkled his nose or voiced reluctance over each one I suggested.

Eventually my sister stepped in. “Do you like peas?” Jim said yes. “Do you like corn?” Again he nodded, so she tossed a bag of each into the cart.

“How about this?” I said hopefully, grabbing a bag of mixed vegetables that contained peas, corn and then some.

He shook his head. “I don’t like carrots.”

“Well for crying out loud, I want some real vegetables!” I fumed, tossing the peas and corn mixture back into the freezer and grabbing the first veggie mix I saw that contained absolutely no peas or corn. I threw that into the shopping cart, then turned on heel and stomped off to get something we’d forgotten in an aisle we’d already passed.

It was during those moments alone that I realized what I had done. I was establishing a pattern, and not a pretty one at that.

See, a year ago, in the same supermarket, same aisle, I reached for a bag of the same mixed vegetables my brother had just nixed, figuring they’d be a crowd pleaser (Jim wasn’t with us on the trip last year). When he saw me place them in the cart, my sister’s fiance Joe shook his head. “I won’t eat those. They’re store brand.”

“What’s wrong with store brand?” I asked.

“I won’t eat ‘em. Only name brands.”

“Well, that’s silly. They’re the same.”

“No they’re not.”

“For crying out loud, yes they are!”

My sister didn’t try to mediate that one. She just took off for another aisle.

When I realized that I’d made a frozen vegetable aisle scene two years in a row, I felt sheepish. I rejoined my brother and sister in the dairy section, and apologized to my sister, who’d witnessed both outbursts. And although I explained to both of them where my disdain for peas and corn came from, I still squirmed at the thought of my over-reaction.

Who knew I felt so inordinately passionate about vegetables? As I said to them later, you have to acknowledge you have a problem before you begin to address it.

So much for being the wise and rational person I’d like to think that I am. But I guess we all have our triggers. Mine just happen to be peas and corn, I guess.

And people who tailgate, or don’t use their directional signals, or cut me off in traffic…

OK, so clearly, at 60 years old, I’m still a work in progress.

What about you? Are you totally self-actualized, or do you have specific things that reduce you to your five year-old self?

Remember, (I’m smiling as I write) you have to acknowledge you have a problem before you begin to address it, right?

One response to “Peas and Corn

  1. Knowing all of the players, this one really made me smile!

    As to self-actualization, I’ll pass — but confess to complete rejection of canned vegetables of any kind. Why someone would do that to a delicate spear of asparagus, or even a sturdy potato, is beyond my comprehension.

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