The other night a young man, probably in his late teens, came by our home while I was cooking dinner. I went to the door with the remnant of a head of lettuce that would soon complete our salad still in my hand. After introducing himself quickly and starting his spiel, he stopped short to ask what was in my hand. How could a growing boy not know his vegetables, I thought. “Lettuce-what vegetables do you eat?” the mother in me asked both playfully and scolding at the same time. “Tomatoes and green beans” he answered confidently. “I’m not a big lettuce eater,” he added.
He was signing up newspaper subscriptions for a charity, but honestly, it was late in his shift and he was just plain hungry at this point. I imagine the thought of the dinner cooking on the stove was too much for him, and he just flat out said “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but might you have a snack for me? I have ½ hour still to go, but I’m starving. I’m sorry to ask, but I’m so hungry…maybe just a little snack?”
He was an absolutely adorable teenager, pleasant, personable…and the universal “mother” in me wanted to help. “Sure,” I answered, “but I have to warn you, all I have is whole wheat pretzels,” I said, thinking of my mostly fat-free, high fiber pantry. “I’m kind of a ‘fat’ guy” he said, “you don’t have anything else?” “I ate all the fat-stuff,” proudly explained my 7 year old, who was standing next to me in the doorway and who had indeed eaten the leftover cheetah/dorito/pretzel mix earlier that day.
I thought about what I had that I might offer him and then shyly said, “I have macaroons,” thinking of the stash from Passover that I shouldn’t be eating anyway. He looked inquisitive, so I added, “they’re kind of a Jewish food, I guess, although they’re more mainstream nowadays.” He’d never heard of macaroons, which of course made the ‘interculturalist’ in me want to share even more. “Hold on a sec. I’ll be right back.” I went to the kitchen and came back with the canister of chocolate macaroons, leftover from our Seder from a couple of weeks ago. I explained again that they were a Jewish food, that they were like coconut cookies but different because we couldn’t use regular flour or yeast during Passover. He immediately tried one. “Hey, these are really good,” he said, with surprise and delight. “Thank you.” And with that he thanked me profusely and was on his way. It was a fun exchange.
So why did I wake up at 2 am wondering if we had set the alarm on the house?