Jam, Gobble, Swallow & Burp

Today I’m eating lunch with my nine-month old daughter Florence; or rather, I’m busy being amused while she gobbles her food down with reckless abandon.

I’m jealous of Florence for the way she can eat, fistfuls of food, pulled with varying degrees of success into her gaping maw, coupled with an intense determination to enjoy it all. Her current method and manners suggest that, but for her age and current location in the space/time continuum, she wouldn’t look out of place at a fire-side boar feast in an Asterisk comic.

I wish I could eat like her: all enthusiasm and no cutlery, but if I tuck into even a pasty (a food surely designed to be eaten freehand) with any of her vim and vigour, I draw scowls of disapproval from nearby members of the public. “Eat that properly,” they think at my face, “or at least a little slower for God’s sake.”

But I don’t want to eat slowly, or carefully, or neatly, or politely. Sometimes I just want to tuck in with both hands like an angry viking, tearing where appropriate and slurping where possible. I want messy fingers and a dripping chin; I want evidence of a good time.

Much to the chagrin of my family and friends, I’ve always been a messy eater and I’ve spent the last thirty years being told to clean up my act. But I think now it’s time I let go of your expectations and followed my heart, if not my stomach. From now on I’m going to be taking my lead from Florence and the food goes in the way it comes out: messily and not without a certain degree of pleasure and satisfaction. If it feels right, I’ll be using cutlery, but if not, you’ve been warned. The only concession I’ll make is that I promise never to attempt Florence’s ultimate trick of indulging both ends at the same time. But only ’cause I love you guys.

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