Think back on your childhood days when your parent made you take your Flintstones One-A-Day™. Oh, yeah, they pulled you in with their little effigies of Bedrock’s favorite inhabitant’s (except Betty, ‘cause Betty’s Not A Vitamin). You could giggle and bite off Barney’s head or feet in a little defiant act of cannibalism, but did Barney or Fred or Wilma or even Dino really taste like grapes or cherries? I think not.
Oh, a first there was a strange unidentifiable sweet – just enough to fool you – then came the slow realization that the back of your tongue was now coated in tin foil and no amount of water would scrape it off. It forced you to go brush your teeth – a cooperative childhood conspiracy between the vitamin and toothpaste companies and our parents, I say. Anyway, the dang things were just gross.
Now, prenatal vitamins are horse pills, big, long oval horse pills. They don’t even come in appealing little cartoon shapes. The ones Bashert took were light kidney bean colour and they smelled like rust. They tasted like, well, vitamins (see above). So, you may excuse me the grimace that comes over my face when I write the next line.
Bashert loved to suck on her prenatal vitamins.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Bless her little pea picking, pregnant, weird craving heart, that is exactly what Bashert did with her prenatal vitamins. Sucked the goodie right out of them, she did. Even Dr. OBwan thought that one topped the charts for her records. Excuse me, I think I need to go brush my teeth.
Another peculiarity about Bashert’s dietary changes during pregnancy, she could consume as much milk as she wanted. Normally borderline lactose allergic (think Meg Ryan on the train in French Kiss), once she realized that she was free from the bonds lactic tyranny it was look out ice cream! She became the dairy industry’s poster child. Cheap, expensive, soft serve, cone, or Klondike Bar™, no mixture of creamy frozen milk was denied. For someone who had to down four lactic counteractive pills before tasting the sample at the frozen yogurt place, this was a dream come true.
After the ice cream, came the need to consume all things that burn out your entire gastrointestinal track. Up until Bashert’s pregnancy neither one of us really had a palate for spicy foods – savory, yes; spicy, no. Pepper to us was just a doll from the 60s. That all changed for her during the pregnancy.
For some reason, Bashert’s body chemistry took a weird turn and decided to keep her sinuses blocked up for weeks on end. She didn’t want to take medications, so asked around for ideas. A friend suggested consuming something spicy – not an appealing thought, but she was desperate for some kind of relief and decided to take the chance.
The first opportunity (since we didn’t keep any peppery spices in the house) came when we attended a Passover seder at a friend’s home. Passover is full of traditional stuff, from the actual order of the meal (seder means order) to the things simply repeated year after year by the friends gathering round the table. Sometimes the traditions can combine, ancient and invented. One of the combined traditions was “Charlie’s Horseradish.”
Part of the seder is to consume bitter herbs (maror) to symbolically remember the bitterness and tears of slavery. The primary food of choice for this bit is horseradish. Charlie’s horseradish had to be kept in a specially designed jar – it ate through ordinary containers. When the lid was removed to start partaking of the lethal concoction, it did not take long before everyone’s eyes filled with tears. This stuff could have been used as a chemical agent for warfare or riot control.
So, why was this night not like any other night? Normally, Bashert and I would take the tiniest portion possible of Charlie’s horseradish, say an imaginary one, but this night Bashert took a heaping spoonful of the slow burning acid, spread it on her matzah and popped into her mouth.
I was writhing in sympathetic agony when I first realized what she had done, but then I got a look at her face. The transformation from the initial, “oh shit, what did I just put in my mouth” to “praise be, I can breath” was nothing short of a miracle. The look wonder and profound joy was incredible. My eyes filled with tears – the fumes were killing me.