5 hours ago
Monday, December 19, 2016
Those times when your parent returns to you
"You have to bite the seeds to release the antioxidants!" the guy behind the counter informed me.
I was having an exciting Saturday morning, which basically meant Dave was watching the kids and I got to hit the supermarket alone. Do I know how to have a good time or what? Afterward, I stopped by an Italian deli. There was a gigantic jar of of figs from Italy on the counter.
"Do they taste good?" I asked the guy. I never eat figs. I don't have anything against them, they're just one of those foods I never think about.
"Here, try one," he said.
It was delicious, tender and perfectly sweet.
Then the guy started talking about the antioxidants. "When the seeds are left over in your mouth after you eat the fig, you've gotta bite them!" he continued.
Suddenly, I swear, I could feel my father standing there beside me, nodding in agreement. It was just the sort of of conversation he would have loved to have. I could see him holding a fig in his hand and tasting it. I could hear him encouraging me to buy some.
These days, everyone talks about multi-grain bread, chia seeds and Omega-3s. When I was growing up, though, health food was more of a fringe thing, and my dad was a devotee. I grew up eating whole-wheat bread, wheat germ, home-grown sprouts and homemade yogurt. Every couple of months, Dad would take my sister and me to the health food store (it was actually called that), where there were giant bins of bran, millet and those other loose grains you see in Whole Foods now. For a treat, he'd let us get dates.
I sure did not appreciate any of this back then, just the opposite. Sunday mornings, Dad would make my sister and me super-healthy oatmeal with raisins and wheat germ, and I would balk at eating it. Inevitably, we'd argue.
My father was very well read and when I was in college, he'd mail me newspaper clips about nutrition—often, one of Jane Brody's columns in the New York Times on vitamins, fruits and veggies, cholesterol, you name it. It was a little bit of love in the mail every week.
Saturday, standing in the deli, I thought about how my dad would have been so into antioxidants. He knew about them before he died in 2011, but he would have been happy to know how popular they had become, along with chia seeds and flax seeds. He would have been thrilled by Greek yogurt. He would have marveled at the various loaves of whole-grain bread in the supermarket aisle and the buzz around quinoa, kefir and fermented foods. He would have been floored that kale has practically become a movement, and psyched that my kids love kale chips and that the baby's favorite food is spinach cakes.
When Max was a tot, his neurologist suggested we give him medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, to potentially help with brain cell repair. Later we gave him Coromega, a mousse-like substance packed with Omega-3s, then eventually transferred him to Nordic Naturals Complete Omega in liquid form. My dad, forever a firm believer in the power of nutrition, had hope that they could do him good.
I brought a half pound of the figs home.
"Ewww, they look like poop!" Sabrina proclaimed.
"Try one!" I encouraged her.
She seemed dubious. She tasted it. Then she spit it out, with the same look on her face as I surely had as a kid when Dad made me try new things.
Somewhere, I thought, Dad is grinning.
Posted by Ellen Seidman at 6:37 AM