Sentouchi Lemon Pie

Brand: Furuta Seika

Found at: Bokkusu

My friend Mackenzie is a picky eater. This would usually be a problem for me. In the past, I have struggled to cultivate empathy for the food shy – my slightly Victorian upbringing has left me with the misguided impression that all of life’s problems can be solved with a pep-talk and some good old-fashioned grit. If you don’t like food, I think smugly to myself, it’s because you just haven’t tried hard enough. Never mind that this is clearly wrong – never mind that I know that this is clearly wrong – it’s just one of those mental hang-ups on which I’ve posted a spiritual “out of order” sign – to be addressed one day in therapy. I’m sure with enough hard work and a good pep talk, it will sort itself out.     

But Mackenzie is a rare exception. Perhaps it is her sense of humor about the whole situation, her own comfort with her food preferences, or the fact that she has enough grit to go around – but I trust her with her own pickiness in a way that I trust few others. She knows it is a bit ridiculous to live on a diet of chicken nuggets, but she owns it, and we all move on. Yet, on the rare occasion that she does try something new, it is the cause for great celebration – all the more if she happens to like it.

I was surprised when she was willing to try the lemon butter cookies that I had brought to our “end of lockdown” picnic. Even Ellen was suspicious of the brightly colored packaging with its jolly Japanese characters. When first offered, both declined graciously, assuming this was one of my weird Asian snacks that had proved so untrustworthy in the past. (The shrimp puffs had not yet been forgotten or forgiven). But when the packaging was removed to reveal the heart-shape pastries familiar to anyone with a grandmother, their resolved weakened. They each took and inspected a lemon-flavored sugar cookie – smelling it, turning it over, and eyeing me for any sign of mischief. When at last they both carefully bit off a corner, I held my breath, waiting for one of them to pull a face.

But I needn’t have worried. This lemon sugar cookie is about the most innocuous snack there is, and my two friends cheerfully finished one and reached for another. Sitting in the park in the sunshine, watching my picky friend devour a package of Japanese cookies, I could not help but feel victorious. At last lockdown was lifting, my friends were trying new things, and the world of grit and earnest pep-talks was easing. Of course, it would not last long. We would return home from our day in the sun to news of the next big struggle and the next hard fight. But you cannot live only on a diet of grit and chicken nuggets, and so when the world becomes too much, I sit and think about the taste of lemon and the crunch of a butter cookie in the sun.  

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