Friday, January 29

The Tyranny of Choice

When I go to France, my favourite places to eat are the lunchtime Routier Cafés, frequented by truckers. A chalkboard outside states simply that there is a menu du jour, the price is chalked up and whether or not vin is inclus - no further details. I sit down, food appears, no looking at menus, no decisions, no effort – heaven!

I tried to get breakfast in a diner in America once and never did it again, the milk choice alone includes semi, demi, skinny, fatty, frothy, flat and not milk at all. By the time the waitress started on the bread list I just wanted to go home and put my own toast on.

Most people who hire me simply want the food to happen, fridge and freezer full and a lovely surprise on the table at dinner time – what’s not to like?

The Crazy White House Lady doesn’t see things this way, for her, endless choice is the point of money. Every day I make suggestions for her evening supper, all of which are rejected, then she leafs through recipe books, makes a decision and goes away - just for a while, I imagine her sitting on her bed all clenched and agonising;
mashed potatoes or roast or should we have rice ... do I really want my fish fried...?

after about half an hour has passed she comes back down and asks me to make a different menu.

CWH Lady likes the idea that she is empowering her five-year-old by asking him what he wants for his supper. This is a common scenario, when children are told they can have anything they want to eat they usually want the same thing day in day out, I make chicken and broccoli every day for this child but we still have to go through the ritual of his mother listing possible dishes and pleading with him to try something else, I watch the child during these performances and see that like his mother, he is torn by the anxiety of decision-making vs the enjoyment of all this power.

*I have agreed to stay another couple of weeks with CWH Lady, I fear that we have developed a sort of mutual Stockholm Syndrome

war poster found here


  1. Oh God. Such behaviour annoys the crap out of me. Especially in the supermarket. How can children know what's out there to eat? Get Super Nanny in there quick smart and have her start on the grownups first.

  2. I was about to type something along the same lines as Joey ... I hear this richness in the grocery store all the time, some 4 year-old being asked to pick something out for supper. Oh, give me that bright red thing! And some Scotch!

  3. Oh god, that toy found at the CWH looks like something that would show up at Infomaniac!

  4. I am beginning to feel overwhelming pity for CWH lady. Imagine being her!

    I love cooking but hate having to decide, every day, what to cook. Actually, now I think of it, I would pay someone to make that decision for me.

    That toy!!!

  5. So glad you're meshing with CWH lady.

    You're one of us now.

  6. She must realise the golden lady you are for her to want you to stay on. I hope you drove a very hard bargain.

    How is the half a pop group?

  7. I am frowning right now. You can't see me but I am. I am disliking this white house lady quite a bit for sucking the joy out of the world.

    Also, my head is bursting with lewd things to say about Lulu and truckers...

  8. Darling Lulu -
    Thank you for being a correspondent from the strange land of the CWH. While I feel your pain, I am truly grateful for these despatches. I was eating a peanut butter cookie as I read and it was all I could do to stop myself from guffawing it all over the computer screen. I can't wait to hear what happens next.

    I caught myself wondering the other day if Adele needs a cook (you know I am a big fan of hers). She seems such a nice, normal kind of international superstar - and aren't international superstars your stock-in-trade? I send all my best wishes. XOXO

  9. I am also somewhat delighted to hear you'll be torturing yourself for a few more weeks just because I am selfish and want to hear more stories.

    That toy is a dog toy. Complete with bumps for cleaning teeth. I'm sure of it, that's why one end looks like a bone. They don't have a dog, do they? They don't sound like dog people.

    And if you are in an American diner and they offer you four kinds of milk, it's not really a diner - run! Real diners will have milk - period. Two kinds of toast - white or wheat, and the best, greasiest fried potatoes and bacon and sausage and...mmmm.

  10. As those of us in the public sector keep trying to explain to politicians: people don't want choice, they want what they want.

    That object explains more about that household than I want to comprehend.

  11. I know you're working for her, but I think that I'd hit CWH upside the head. She must waste alot of food.

  12. "...I imagine her sitting on her bed all clenched and agonising..."

    Snortle! Ha!

    The lady is clearly unbalanced (asking her kid to decide dinner?!) but perhaps you can make chicken noodle soup out of her Alzheimer's brain tangles and turn the lemons into lemonade (still wanting sneak larceny to be a part of your employment strategy though, Lulu)

    Here's to a successful career garnished by expensive bottles secreted about your person as you hit the exit!


  13. "...milk choice alone includes semi, demi, skinny, fatty, frothy, flat and not milk..."

    And all this choice leads to a healthy vibrant America? ---not---fattest race on earth....

    (retiring back to the soy-milk latte with gluten-free pancakes)

  14. it's so bizarre to picture CWH Lady on her bed, nearly destroyed while selecting her choice of potato WHILE so many starve in Haiti.

    does she turn on a television or read the newspaper? perhaps not -- she probably couldn't decide which station or paper to choose.

    how come no one let me pick exactly what i wanted to eat as a child? that's it -- i'm suing my parents for abuse.

  15. Oh, lordy.... The kid likes broccoli, though - maybe there is some spark of worthwhileness in him. Just seen the "toy" :-0

  16. When my second son was little he would only eat melon, cucumber, tuna and chicken for several months. oh and he did drink milk. I just fed him what he wanted and drank champagne to drown out the guilt......

  17. JoeyJoJo - there does need to be a Super Nanny for grownups doesn't there?

    Mr Red - Once the children have control the Scotch is all we can cling to!

    xl - I was wondering if that toy belonged to one of MJ's Housebos

    Eryl - overwhelming pity is my main feeling for Mrs CWH which why I've agreed to stay a bit longer.

    I can decide much better what to give other people to eat than I can for myself - I wonder if I could start a neighbourhood cook-swap scheme.

    Inkspot You're one of us now.

    Are you living with an indecisive, obsessive-compulsive, control-freak too Inky?

    Ms Fancy How is the half a pop group?
    A curious story - they aren't there anymore - will report soon.

    MS Assassin -N point disliking CWH lady quite a bit for sucking the joy out of the world. She's only sucking the joy out of her own world, pity is the more appropriate emotion.

  18. KSV I caught myself wondering the other day if Adele needs a cook (you know I am a big fan of hers). She seems such a nice, normal kind of international superstar

    I shall write to her - I think George Clooney also seems quite nice, so I'm writing to him too.

    StefRobrts - as long as my pain has purpose I can live with it, thanks for information about the toy, there is a dog but I assumed he found it in a bedroom.

    Shall try a proper diner next time I'm in US

    Kevin - people don't want choice, they want what they want.
    Exactly - And I'm best placed to tell people what they want!

    Dedene -She does waste a lot of food because she never wants what we already have.

    Ms Cow - I clank when I steal bottles, I'm a rubbish thief

    There are scientific studies showing how more choice leads to more anxiety and unhappiness

    Ms Weight - The juxtaposition of fridges heaving with unwanted food while great areas of the planet starve is very uncomfortable isn't it.

    Wierdly when CWH turns on the telly it's to watch a cooking show!

    Gadjo Dilo - The kid likes broccoli - so let him eat it and just stop with the hours of begging.

    Nursey - kids do go through fussy phases and loads of parents end up accepting their child's limited diet, but the greater the performance around mealtimes the worse it gets.

    drinking champagne while they get on with the melon and cucumber is definitely the best attitude.

  19. Yes, what is that toy?!
    I think we're all enjoying this love/hate relationship.

  20. What toy?

    Did I miss a link?

    I haven't had my coffee yet as it's early morning over here.

  21. How will she cope in your absence? Will she have to choose between Aldi and Lidl?

  22. I am playing catch-up here, but I agree with your Stockholm Syndrome diagnosis.

  23. Perhaps she needs a focus group.

    Or one of those feature film camping trips where she has to slum it and is transformed from retentive moaner to motherly hippy. Like Goldie Hawn.

  24. Scarlet we're all enjoying this love/hate relationship.
    I'm wondering who will shoot who first

    MJ What toy? Pay attention dear!

    Madame DeFarge - She doesn't believe she can cope without staff so I expect she'll simply shrivel up and die.

    Welcome FJ - I've ony just realised that the two-way Stockholm Syndrome is quite a common state

    Glory - Perhaps she needs a focus group.

    or simply a life, I love the ida that she might do a Goldie Hawn transformation

  25. A couple more weeks, Lulu? Are you really brave or really crazy?

  26. And the vicious cycle of child abuse by believed empowerment continues. He'll grow up as screwy as his mother.

  27. nice post. thanks.


Related Posts with Thumbnails