If you have a Portuguese mother, you know food. I’m not talking about cuisine; that’s an individual endeavor. I’m talking v-o-l-u-m-e. It doesn’t even matter if your mom likes to cook (mine doesn’t). But mine sure cares that I never spend one moment hungry. Even if the only reason I haven’t eaten is that I’m a giant lazy ass who is too comfortable in bed to get up and put a waffle in the toaster.
The Portuguese mother, she will ask you if you have eaten at any time of the day. It doesn’t matter if you have a bag of half-eaten Carl’s Jr. in your hand. And the mess all over your shirt. The first level of business is always going to be the question, “Did you eat?” And she’s not sure if she didn’t witness it.
She will call your cell phone on the opposite coast or in Europe and make sure that you remembered that you are going to get hungry. How many years you’ve lived away from home and managed not to waste away have no bearing on this. Oh, no. She is terrified that at any given moment, you might be starving and when you surface, she will shove food down your throat like you’re a goose destined to be foie gras, but with the loving touch of a mother bird gently stuffing worms down her baby’s throat. So the voracity of the foie gras maker, but the love of the mother bird, you ask? Yeah, that’s about right.
It’s her damned job to worry about these things. Even if you’re old enough to have a kid yourself. Even if you possess an AARP card. Even if you are on your way to my Overeater’s Anonymous meeting.
Now let’s be clear about that question you Hollywood types are asking yourself. The Portuguese Mother does not want you to be fat. You have no excuses for either skipping her food, nor your backfat. If you are fat, it’s because you stuffed yourself between meals with cakes and cookies the purchase of which was definitely not pre-authorized. How dare you! It is not the Portuguese Mother’s fault that you can’t fit in those skinny jeans that make you look like a puta, anyway. Eat your rice and peas!
She is not stuffing you in an unhealthy way, at least knowingly. But she is convinced that whatever you are eating outside her presence is completely devoid of vitamins. So you’re really malnourished, even if you are a hippy health nut. Especially if you are a hippy health nut.
And God forbid you ever stop eating meat! My god, do you want to die of anemia?
So I came back to my apartment from recuperating at her house after surgery, and I unloaded three (count ’em!) THREE modestly-sized coolers of food. It’s the Berlin Airlift for one.
Of course, my mom isn’t just randomly overstocking me; it’s only been six weeks and I am still too weak to go to the store and get more than five or so pounds of stuff without feeling like I’ve been attacked by a bayonet. So it’s not like my mother is being ridiculous or anything. Usually I just come back to Oakland with a bag of canned foods.
The Berlin Airlift for One Includes:
4 kinds of meat all divided into single servings and frozen: chicken, two kinds of fish, enough turkey for six turkey burgers, two tiny steaks
A pound of celery
Both baby carrots and loose (DELICIOUS ONES!!!)
A pound of quinoa
A very large orange juice
One bag of walnuts
Two kinds of whole wheat pasta (though she was suspicious because they were brown)
A bag of brown rice
A near-gallon of cranberry juice for the cat. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. It really does keep him from getting those notorious blockages that male cats get very easily. But it’s still funny. Feel free to laugh.
An entire pallet of cat food for the cat, by the way. That twerp eats better than I do. He has an allergy, so he eats canned venison.
Two loaves of bread
Two boxes of cereal bars, AND
So my mom is so awesome I have not had to lift anything over five pounds for the entire week I’ve been home. I’m going to live a long time without having to, too! It really means something to a girl with a gash in her stomach!
Thank Heaven for Portuguese moms!