2013 has begun and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this year. Finally, I have a respite from living in a weird foodie limbo called early pregnancy. For now, at 14 weeks, the tricky times are almost past and I’m at liberty to talk about it. But fear not, I won’t bombard you with saccharine tales of how thrilling it is to have motherhood on the horizon. The truth is, the first three months suck and the daunting task of becoming a parent is met with extreme emotions that range from trepidation to tentative excitement, but mostly total and utter terror. If you’re one of the rare lucky ones not to really experience the weirdness that occurs when hormones take over your body during this time, you may have no idea what I’m talking about, and you probably deserve a slap for being so smug.
The reality for me was that I spent almost 3 months in a state of complete gastronomic disarray. My appetite ranged from non-existent to insatiable, and spent a fair portion of time afraid of food, a quality in others that normally irritates the hell out of me. As someone who spends perhaps far too much time thinking about the next meal, I now went to panic mode when it came to eating and lived completely at the whim of nausea and odd unseasonal cravings.
First, I became obsessed with tomatoes in mid-November. So much so that I had to shove aside my guilt at purchasing imported out-of-season tomatoes and avocados so I could sate an irrational desire for bruschetta and caprese salads. I drank hot chocolate obsessively. For a week all I could eat were buttered rolls with ham. Then, I became preoccupied with textures of food. During a particular week I must have eaten Mexican food about 3 or 4 times: crunchy tacos or soft burritos, with warm ground beef, cool crème fraîche and guacamole. I discovered that if you opt for vegetarian options at Chipotle or Tortilla, you got the guacamole for free – an added bonus, especially because carnitas gave me the fear.
I developed an irrational hatred of the soy sauce, MSG and cabbage odour of Asian noodle bars; the smell of which still makes me feel nauseous. I spent a lunchtime wandering aimlessly around Soho desperate to find a sausage roll, but only after eating two slices of pizza from Maletti. Most other lunchtimes I would worry about what I could eat that wouldn’t make me feel sick. I couldn’t bear the taste or smell of chicken, even the organic, free-range plump beauty I bought from the farmers’ market.
This was not okay. I had lost control of one of the things central to my being. A melodramatic response perhaps, but when I have chosen to spend my life dedicated to the pleasures of the table, I was utterly lost. Not only was I was eating things I would normally avoid like the plague, I was unable to enjoy the food I could actually eat. An undercurrent of dread and nausea infiltrated every meal, and I began to wonder if, at the crucial time I had made a career change into food, my hormones had now thwarted me permanently.
But then, in a matter of days, it vanished. Like…that. I am myself again, but with an ever-expanding belly and a hunger that is impatient and punishing. How strange it is to be tossed between these two gastronomic realities indiscriminately! The good news is, of course, that I can eat again. As I type, my collection of cooking and cookery reference books are sending me come hither looks. So bring on 2013, and let me eat my way through the next six months. And of course, pretend that Tesco sausage rolls no longer call to me.