August 9, 2007

So It Turns Out, My Father-in-Law’s Not Nuts

I finished reading Gichin Funakishi’s "Karate-Do My Way of Life" last night.  It was a fabulous read.  I have so much that I want to say about it, and I will over the next few days but I wanted to start by bringing up just a very small piece of something that I read.

In the book, Funakishi addresses his longevity and what he thinks might be reasons for his good health.  He states, "I may also mention that it is my custom, and always has been, to eat hot meals in summer and cold ones in winter.  For example, I never, as most people do, eat ice cream or sherbet in hot weather."

Hmm, that got me to thinking. 

When I first started dating my husband, back when we were in college, his parents used to frequently come down to campus and take us out to eat.  My father-in-law used to order things in a way that I thought was pretty silly.  His response for the drink order was always: "Iced tea-NO ICE" and he would get extremely upset if that glass came with even one ice cube in it.  He would also get frustrated as he watched the waitress refill his glass from a tea pitcher, as there were always ice cubes lingering and just threatening to jump ship and make his night a little less enjoyable.  He would also occasionally request that servers go back to the kitchen and get his tea directly from the tea brewer so as to avoid the mingling with the dreaded ice cubes.  Of course, I informed him that the tea comes out scalding hot, which is why they pour it into pitchers with ice, but he didn’t really care for my commentary.

What I found even more unusual was his behavior regarding soup.  He would order a nice hot cup or bowl of soup and then ask the waiter or waitress to bring a glass of ice to accompany it.  He would proceed to load up his soup with ice cubes until the temperature was a more tolerable one. 

At first, I said nothing.  I was just getting to know him after all.  But as I got more comfortable around him, I started to chide him a bit.  Having worked as a waitress on and off through college, I warned him that his peculiar requests might be getting him a little more than he bargained for when it came to his main entree (if you catch my drift).  I also began to fear, that because the rest of us were at his table, we might also suffer a similar fate when it came to our enchiladas or hamburgers. 

Eventually, he tried to explain to me this peculiar behavior, and basically (and I hope I’m getting this right) he didn’t think it was healthy to eat or drink things that were very far off from your own body temperature.  He thought it was a shock to your system and could mean deteriorating health down the road.  I respectfully listened, and began to have more tolerance for his ordering style in restaurants.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t pick on him endlessly about it.  We all do, but at least I understood the reason behind the perceived madness. 

When I read Funakoshi’s customs regarding hot foods in summer and cold foods in winter, it seemed very similar.  My father-in-law hasn’t taken his preferences that far, as of yet anyway, but the premise seems about the same. My father-in-law is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and now I can’t help but wonder if he didn’t get his current beliefs from Eastern philosophy. 

He’s going to be visiting this weekend, so I’m going to make sure to ask him. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go prepare some room-temperature foods and drinks for his arrival.  He may not be crazy after all.   

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