Monday, May 9, 2011

Peruvian food fights

Ok, I haven't flung a single plate of mashed potatoes in anyone's face (which is really a shame!) but I do definitely have a full-blown war on my hands.

First off, I really like my host family this semester, I do. They've been great to me, and we mostly get along smashingly.

But the one thing that is increasingly driving me to desperate measures is the constant pushing to eat more, more, more! My poor stomach just cannot handle it!

For example, I have this battle on a weekly basis:

Host Mom: You don't like bread/mandarins/bananas etc. (Not in question form, you'll notice.)

Me: Yes, I do like them!

HM: Well they're here, and you haven't been eating them.

Me: Yeah, it's just that I eat so much at meal times, that I'm not hungry in between.

HM, with a disbelieving, disapproving look: But you eat early in the morning, at around 11 o'clock you could come down and eat more.

Me: I know, thank you, but I'm just not hungry!

And really Hermi, do you eat at every second that you possibly can? I don't say that. But I want to.

This battle on a nearly daily basis:

Host Mom: You didn't eat your salad/dessert/bread. (Or: Take more salad/dessert/bread!)

Me: I already ate the soup and rice and chicken and potatoes. Everything is very good, I just can't eat any more!

That response usually only gets a very worried, incredulous, or even slightly hurt look. Sometimes a strange mixture of the three along with a chuckle, which somehow does not diminish the disapproval.

When I'm vulnerable or tired I lose that battle and just eat. And then feel like I'm going to explode.

And really, no one else eats what I'm expected to eat. But I've found this question/excuse to be an ineffective tactic. Apparently my youth means I ought to be a bottomless pit of insatiable hunger.

I even often resort to going out in the evenings and telling them I was eating dinner en la calle (in the street) or at whomever's house I was going to, just so I can have a break from the force-feeding!

Last night we had three different kinds of sausage as an appetizer and a different kind of pork as the main course. And they desperately wanted to give me seconds. I couldn't brave it.

Could NOT. In fact, the wine at that meal was definitely my life-line in terms of getting the meat taste out of my mouth!

I won that one, but they did not look very pleased with me.

As I was typing this a full plate of food and soup and dessert was brought in to me (8:30 actually being a very usual time for a Peruvian dinner.)
HM: Here's your food hijita! Me: Oh, ok, but umm...I'm really not very hungry. HM: Just eat! And she leaves it.
Looks like another win for Hermi. I have absolutely no appetite.


  1. That is so amusing. Not that I take pleasure in another's suffering or anything...

    If I were in this situation I would just continue to refuse if I wasn't hungry and if they got nasty about it I would give them a lecture on the hazards of overeating; to show them that what they might perceive as generosity is actually harmful to me. Hopefully they would get the point after that, but if not I'd just continue to refuse and maybe they would get tired of wasting their time and money on food that I won't eat.

    But that's just me. You could probably just put up with it for little longer if you won't be there much longer. I don't know when you leave.

  2. God I completely understand.The same thing happens in Indian gatherings and they assume that we dont like the food if we dont eat it and start asking me if they should prepare something else.
    I actually told them once I have diarrhea and can only eat rice and yogurt. She then tried shoveling fruits down my throat.
    Its a no win battle. I feel ya!

  3. Tom: I'm thinking that "showing them why their generosity is harmful" might be a little harsh..." They're not nasty, just human!

    Mehwish: Haha, thanks for your support!