Fun with language and food

We like to talk about food, in my family. We’ve joked for years about mispronunciations of my name and Lily’s that have ended with us acquiring food item nicknames. Mom and I will discuss recipes and foods we are growing, or trying to grow, in our gardens. Lily, of course, loves to join in our discussions, because it isn’t a conversation if her voice isn’t part of it. 😉 She also was affected, growing up, by our parents’ preference for public television programming. Mom would sit with us to watch The Frugal Gourmet, Julia Child’s various programs, Yan Can Cook, and more, and we’d often pick up an ingredient, technique, or recipe to try on our own.

Lily is an amusing assistant in the kitchen. She loves to chop things, for instance, but she’s a little too eager to eat what she cuts up. Our Thanksgiving tradition for a number of years is that I manage the turkey and Lily and I together make the ginger-spiced pumpkin pie.

Here are a couple of moments of amusement that we have shared with Lily over the years, involving food and talking about food.

* * * * *

During a recent phone call, with everyone on speakerphone, we were joking about foods that match our personalities. I had just made a rather rude, flippant joke about my father and Kind bars being a little bit nutty.

Mom: Lil, are you a nut or a fruit?
Lily: I’m a cashew!
(all laugh)
Mom, trying to draw Lily into a conversation: What does a cashew do?
Elysia: I think they curl up?
Dad: They cash!
Lily, clearly having misheard “cash” as “cats”, makes her very distinctive “SOMEONE SAID CAT” noise: Awwwww!

* * * * *

One night on the phone, I got to hear Lily request a piece of yam tempura, a first for her. She’s loved tempura for years, but she’s rarely tried to identify the food that was battered. I suspect she learned that yam was one ingredient because my dad and I often compete to find the yams first, as we both love them.

* * * * *

Lily currently exhibits what I can only describe as a verbal tic while she eats meals. She seems to need to vocalize frequently, from once per mouthful/bite to once every few bites. It’s a bit grating, honestly, since she frequently yells in an aggressive way, sometimes formed into one of her mealtime phrases (“Wait!”, “”), and sometimes just raw noise.

It was funny, though, when she was younger. Back then? She said, “Where are you going?” And yes, she often did this before every. single. bite, and it kind of got old. But she didn’t always need us to respond, and we enjoyed responding with childhood rhymes or aspects of the biology of digestion. (I was very interested in biology by the time Lily entered this phase.)

* * * * *

Many years ago, Lily went through a phase during which she refused to eat anything except cheese. One night, we were eating turkey for dinner, and Lily was putting up her usual resistance, demanding cheese. My father calmly handed her a slice of turkey, and told her that it was cheese. Without hesitation, she took a bite…and ate it all.


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