When Aya was pregnant with Ellie, she had absolutely no morning sickness or any aversions to food. Not only was she not disgusted by any food, she didn’t have any cravings either. At least, nothing unusual from her usual cravings as an exotic food loving person. (Her cravings kicked in postpartum when she’d send me to Dunkin’Donuts for a triple chocolate donut at 4am while she was nursing. Donuts? I wasn’t complaining.) But with this pregnancy, it’s been a whole different ball game.

I’ve been anxious to tell people about us expecting our second kid, not only because I was excited, but because I needed to vent. Yes, me. And yes I know it’s her body changing. It’s her body with the million extra hormones, her body that’s nurturing, and growing life. But I’m the one that has to deal with her and her million extra hormones and cravings. So like I said, she didn’t have any cravings with the previous pregnancy, but she sure did with this one. This was all new to me and I was trying my best to keep up with the current trend.

When it comes to grocery shopping and cooking, I run a tight ship. I plan the meals and make my list on Sunday, and go shopping Monday morning. I never need to have anything pre-approved. I select things we both like and for the most part, Aya eats anything. This is a woman where the more exotic and unique a recipe is, the more appealing it is to her.  She never orders the same dish at restaurants because, “That’s too boring.” 

But then she got pregnant.

For a whole week all she wanted was a turkey sandwich. And a hard boiled egg.  For lunch and dinner. No fancy cilantro-mayonnaise sauce, no spring green lettuce, just a plain-as-you-can-get turkey sandwich.  And she wanted the egg with Japanese mayonnaise.  “It’s way better than the American kind,” she’d say.   And the bread for the sandwich needed to be toasted. “I need it crunchy. But not too much.”

Huh? This is very out of character for her. She never craves sandwiches and we rarely even have lunch meat in the house. But after her requesting turkey sandwiches for a whole week, I decided to keep the house stocked and bought a whole pound of turkey. And after I did, the turkey sandwich ship sailed. Just the thought of another turkey sandwich made her feel nauseous. “I don’t even want to think about turkey,” she said with her eyes closed as she lay on the couch.

Ellie and I ate a lot of turkey sandwiches for lunch that week.

After the turkey sandwich phase, it was the comfort food phase. Good old fashioned American comfort food. Spaghetti (had to be homemade sauce with meat), tuna noodle casserole, hamburgers, and meatloaf. (For Valentines Day I offered to make anything she wanted, and what did she request?  A plain simple(boring) hamburger!) So I made all of those things for her. But the day before it was meatloaf night, she changed her mind and the cravings switched to Japanese comfort food. “I have recipes, but I need to translate them for you,” she said to me Sunday night at 8:00pm while half asleep on the couch.

I kind of figured I wouldn’t be going grocery shopping or planning meals like I usually did for awhile. I just tried to buy a little bit of everything just in case. A little lunch meat, some Japanese vegetables, some regular ones, some meat, everything.

She ended up e-mailing me the next couple of days around 4:30 or 5:00pm with a link to a Japanese website saying, “I want this! I translated the basics and the pictures should help you out.”

I felt like a contestant on Top Chef given a new challenge each day. Except my kitchen challenge was in another language, I had a hungry two year old as a sous chef, and the judge was a hormonal pregnant woman. I love a good challenge, but oh boy. The cards were stacked against me.

I had lost control of my kitchen and my shopping list. I went to the store afraid I was buying all the wrong things. What direction were the craving winds blowing today? Would I be allowed to make what was on the cover of Cooking Light magazine like I had in the past? Would she be like this for NINE MONTHS? When would I get my kitchen back?

This must be what it’s like to cook for a finicky spouse. A spouse that grumbles at the thought of using ‘unique’spices, semi-exotic vegetables, or anything remotely different. A house where certain types of mushrooms (or mushrooms in general) are banned, along with asparagus, squash, meatloaf, and tofu. I think I know what that’s like now.

So to you cooks out there that have these daily struggles, my heart goes out to you. I really missed my freedom in the kitchen and I can only imagine it’s like cooking for a pregnant woman with very particular cravings every day.

But now that Aya is in her 2nd trimester, things are starting to level off and I’m gaining control of my kitchen once again. It wasn’t until this week that I was able to go grocery shopping without a pre-approved list or menu. And when Aya raved about my pork tenderloin with pomegranate molasses tonight at dinner did I think, “Oh yeah, I’m back.”

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