ONE of the best things to do this holiday season is to eat your face off. Rarely do you ever see a Filipino family home that isn’t full to bursting with food during Noche Buena. People who are generous with food are angels on earth, for sure. You can be cheap with literally everything else but food, medical expenses, and shoes. Anything that you put into your body, or something that supports you as you go on with your day, should be worth spending on. Eating is one of life’s greatest joys, and there are so many options for food that my philosophy on it is sort of like Pokemon. Gotta catch ‘em all, I guess.

Another thing that makes me want to cry out for joy — out of sheer relief — is because everyone is on break. I rarely ever get to see most of my friends, because they’re so busy. Most of us are graduating seniors, so we’ve been hard at work just trying to make sure we get to put that toga on (or in my case, the sablay) and get that diploma. We don’t even need to go out and party, because most of the trouble that we get into happens when we’re just hanging out at our local McDonald’s.

Part of the reason why we always end up at McDonald’s is because we can never decide on a place to eat. It’s not because we don’t want to eat at different places, or even because we can’t make up our minds. As much as I love them, most of my friends are picky eaters.

You know the type; they pick the pickles out of their Big Mac. They don’t eat vegetables, or else eat only organic food that has been locally sourced from the “farmer’s market”, which is basically just Bangkerohan or your local wet market. Vegetarians don’t count, and refusing food for religious reasons is completely understandable as well, because they aren’t being picky due to some flight of fancy. I’m talking about those who deliberately choose to not eat certain foods just because they don’t like it. Be it vegetables or shellfish or, weirdly enough, eggs, this is something that becomes a problem around the holiday season.

This is frustrating for someone like me, who loves food and would eat almost anything if it stands still long enough. I have friends who would only eat vegetables “if I can’t see it”, and someone who doesn’t eat shellfish or beef due to personal preferences, but regularly drinks civet coffee. When we get together for the holidays, planning get-togethers is a major pain in the butt because they are very vocal about their dislike of certain foods. It’s such a shock because they are some of the most open-minded people that I know. Feeding them is always a challenge.

Why people have such strong aversions to food has always remained fascinating to me. There is something about being able to control what nourishes you, but this comes with mixed results. Not eating vegetables isn’t good for you, but at the same time, having fried chicken every now and then doesn’t make you a bad person. Food is one of the things that you can cheat on, just as long as you don’t do so all the time. You do what works for you.

Getting my friends to try new food has been one of my life goals. So far, I’ve introduced my friend Kaz, who is notoriously picky, to Pastilan sa Ponce, and she loves the stuff. The chicken pastil is so good that she didn’t even ask me what it was made of.

When done right, food unites people. It shouldn’t be such a point of contention, especially with Christmas coming up and knowing that there are so many others out there that get by with so little. Keeping an open mind and accepting change, especially when it comes to your diet, is the key to living life well — that and being a good person, and having happy thoughts, and keeping good hygiene. Go ahead and spoil yourself with food this holiday season, and just promise to keep the weight off for the rest of the year. I know I will.

Posted in Opinion