Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To All the Foods I Loved Before

Once upon a time, I used to eat cheese without looking at the label to see if it was pasteurized. If it was offered to me at a party, I would unthinkingly pop it into my mouth, and enjoy. I didn't wonder if the bleu cheese crumbles in my salad were safe, and feta was not eyed with suspicion.

If it was Fall, I would down a glass of apple cider, fresh from the farm, and not think about whether or not it had been heated so the cooties were now in absentia. I would go to a sandwich shop and order a sandwich and shun heating it up to kill possible listeria whatsits.

And once a week, on average, I would eat sushi. I love sushi. I would never turn down sushi. My bachelorette party started with sushi. And tiaras. But mostly sushi.

I adore sushi.

But in June, knowing there was a possibility that I'd be carrying a baby by the end of summer, I began saying a brief goodbye to all things oceanic. For a week, while we were in Virginia Beach, I ate nothing but fish and sushi. We came back to Dallas on a Saturday, and Sunday, we ate sushi again. I was actually sick of fish - even if it was encased in rice and seaweed and dipped in a small bowl of soy sauce - at the end of the week. My needs, I thought, were satiated.

And truly, in the first trimester, I didn't want anything much at all. Nearly everything I ate made a round trip. There are still things - months later - that used to be favorites that I can no longer eat. Even if I could have eaten sushi, I wouldn't have risked tainting my beloved meal like that. But then the second trimester happened.

In the second trimester, I am hungry - a lot, and often. I've been good (so far) about substituting things when my cravings are unhealthy. A craving for sweets now gets satisfied with a clementine or an apple, for instance. And the foods I'm supposed to avoid - unpasteurized cheeses, deli meat, unpasteurized juices and milk - are either also offered in a pasteurized version, or can be briefly heated to kill possible cooties.

But you can't heat sushi. And Lord, how I want sushi. Well-meaning friends have suggested vegetarian sushi, but um, that's not sushi. That's just a bunch of veggie slivers wrapped in rice. Others have suggested eating tempura at the sushi bar instead. This, of course, is akin to letting the car salesman put you in a Pinto when the showroom is full of Lamborghinis.

Not the same. Noticeably not the same.

So instead, I wait. I know it's for a good cause, and if I've tamped down my craving for sushi for six months, I can surely do it for the home stretch. As a joke - and a bit of encouragement - my cousin gave me a sushi ornament for the Christmas tree. It hangs this year as a reminder that eventually, I'll get to indulge again. Next year, I'll point it out to the baby I'm holding, and say, "See that? Your mommy loves you more than sushi. But it's just a little bit more, so go to sleep already."

I kid. Probably.

So what foods did you crave that you couldn't have while you were pregnant?

Bethany Erickson is 23 weeks pregnant and the wife of Texas Health Resources web editor Tom Erickson.

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