Confessions of a Foodie

I’m an eager eater. Growing up with Dad as a role model and six pace-setting siblings, I was neither fussy about taste nor shy about consumption. Mom once described her hungry children at the dinner table as piglets at a trough: squeals of excitement, jostling for position and dedication to the task.

My love of all things edible has never faltered. I remember restaurants where I ate outstanding food like others remember the names of their children. Though I’m a bit more refined than a brother who claims he’s never eaten a bad meal in a restaurant, I can find something I can enjoy on any menu. When traveling, I order the most unusual item offered: sautéed squid, braised armadillo, chitlins, a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich at Graceland.

I never find a dessert too sweet or gooey. When others complain, “My, I can’t eat this; it’s too rich,” I wonder how they’d react if I snatched the offending item from their plate and ate it.

Those who don’t share my passion for food puzzle me: An acquaintance once stopped the happy buzz of party guests around the appetizer table by announcing she didn’t live to eat. She ate to live. Overwhelmed by pity for her dire situation, I choked on a chocolate-covered strawberry.

I also have no patience with fussy eaters who spend more time picking their food apart than eating it. I keep my opinion to myself, though, after an experience I had as a rooky teacher.

Female staff members went out to dinner once a month to celebrate birthdays. The first time I attended, I sat next to Trudy, a stern-looking lady rumored to be uppity. When I ordered peanut-butter pie for desert, she sniffed, “Obviously, Janet has yet to outgrow her juvenile taste in food.”

Though embarrassed by her put-down, I stifled my response: “It’s also obvious, Snooty Trudy, that we could hang Christmas decorations on your enormous nose and stand you in the school’s lobby as our tree.”

So when a friend picked the pepperoni from a pizza and another ordered a hamburger without mustard, onion, lettuce or pickle and with the tomato chopped rather than sliced, I didn’t comment. And when a relative spent five minutes removing the raisins from a piece of raisin cake, I said not a word.

I love comfort food and believe in its power. Whenever misfortune struck a member of my family — not making the basketball team, a baby-sitting job from hell, acne — Mom assured us we’d feel better after we ate. And she was right.

Funeral food is comfort food at its best. After my paternal grandmother’s services, I sat with Dad on the steps to the upstairs bedroom in her pioneer-era home. We juggled plates of food and observed the crowd in silence.

I didn’t know how to console my Dad: I wasn’t sure how he felt about his mother, who left the raising of him to his grandmother and didn’t seem interested in his life when we visited. But he seemed melancholy and withdrawn. Not knowing what to say, I kept quiet, but slid close.

As we munched on potato-and-cheese casserole, pot roast, Jell-O salad, green beans with bits of bacon, homemade rolls, and apple pie, we began to talk. Dad told me he’d never met a piece of pie he didn’t like, and I made him laugh with a story about my college roommate who wouldn’t go to bed without eating a bowl of Raisin Bran and five jelly beans.

We felt better after we ate.

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88 thoughts on “Confessions of a Foodie

  1. There is something about food. Of course with some of us it is obvious we need to push back on the table once in a while.and now we know how much damage sugar can do but we still need our sweets.and…no fake sugar please.

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  2. Food is best for everything! Feeling down = food, headache = food, even food = food somehow. I like how you got back at Trudy, sounds like she deserved the response. I’m really curious, how did the armadillo taste?

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    • So good to hear from you Jeffrey. The armadillo was mild and very tender because it had been stewed for some time and was served on mashed potatoes with gravy over all. Quite yummy.

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  3. I can’t express how much I love this post! 🙂 Despite being one of your picky eaters (through food allergies and intolerances, though, not by choice), when I find things I can eat, I do eat them – and enjoy them thoroughly. I’m also a great believer in comfort food.

    A few decades ago at a get together of some friends, a guy I didn’t know well came and when I offered him food, he said he was vegan and that really threw me as I hadn’t met a vegan before then. I couldn’t work out what he could eat, so I offered him some savoury-pastry snacks I’d made… which unfortunately contained cheese. “I can’t eat these, I’m afraid. But I’ll have the sesame seeds from the top of them.” And that’s all he ate!

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    • I’m glad there are foods you can eat and that you enjoy them. Your funny anecdote made me think the fellow in it would get along well with my relative who discarded the raisins then ate frosting and cake crumbs.

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  4. Wonderful post. …And I shall say ‘nary’ a word about my vegan diet… But rest assured I too love my food. I just love animals more.

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  5. Coming from a pretty strict German family, I may not have gotten tight hugs and cheeky kisses…..but I did get treated with special foods to let me know how much I was loved. Perhaps that’s why, even today, I’m a member of “The Clean Plate Club.” 😊💟😋

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    • We didn’t kiss and hug a lot in my family either, Gail. But I never doubted I was loved, and much of that certainty came from sitting at a round oak table with my family and eating my birthday dinner, which Mom prepared after talking with me about what I wanted. Some of my happiest memories are of the talk and laughter we shared as we ate special meals together.

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  6. I went to an interesting event a few years back where the point was to learn about the power of food, to begin to lose the shame around it and to share our food stories. I couldn’t believe how many people at the table had such heart wrenching food stories. I learned a lot about each woman at the table through their telling of how they were fed as a child, how they think of food now and how they feed themselves and their family.
    Although, I am not as eager to try the most out-there meal on the menu as you…I am a hungry person and always up for eating and I never want to share a meal. I was the hungriest in my family growing up, still am. I find such satisfaction in feeding hungry people who are not afraid to say so. I love watching my boys and husband stop speaking and just chew! Food is a way into someone’s heart and you wrote about that eloquently. Great topic, thank you!

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    • I, too, know the happiness of “…feeding hungry people who are not afraid to say so.” It’s the best reward a cook can have. I’m also happy to hear you never want to share a meal. I don’t even want to share a dessert with someone else in a restaurant. If i decide to order dessert, I want to eat it all!

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  7. I love comfort food and believe in its power. …….Me, too, I say this to you while chowing down on a chicken and potato dinner with corn muffins loaded with butter…….another fun topic from my blogger buddy and favorite writer…..Sending my best! ❤

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    • Sounds like a wonder dinner, Lucie. After hearing you describe foods you cook, I’m not a bit surprised that you love, and skillfully create, comfort food. My best to you as well, my friend. Are you feeling any urge to write yet?

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  8. I love this post, Janet. I love comfort food and I never understand picky or snooty eaters and I can’t stand people who point out the errors of my eating choices. I work with people who will say no to a donut on Wednesday because they’re planning to go out to dinner on Friday. I have never said no to a donut. Reading the memories you have associated with food, made me smile.

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  9. “Overwhelmed by pity for her dire situation,I choked on a chocolate-covered strawberry.”

    Janet, it’s early morning in my time zone. I wasn’t expecting to laugh at this hour. But this line did it to me.

    Real good essay.
    Have a good weekend.

    Neil

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    • And we would share our favorite comfort foods with one another, exclaiming over each bite and complimenting one another on our food choices. I think this scenario will become one of my favorite daydreams.

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  10. Let me join you at the dinner table! In a Tai Chi class several years ago I was the only caucasian. We had a pot luck picnic once a month where everyone brought a dish of their choice. When I brought chocolate cake, some brought chicken feet or some other unidentifiable part of an animal. I tasted it all, though I drew a line after eating a chicken foot. They say they are superb as part of a soup broth. Could be.

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    • Wouldn’t it be fun to sit down and share a meal of our favorite foods and a good conversation? I’d love it. I enjoyed your anecdote. I will try most anything, but I can’t imagine being able to chew and swallow a chicken foot.

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  11. I think your feelings about food came from your DNA and childhood. We didn’t have a great variety but we had plenty and our mother worked hard to make it taste good.

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    • I think so too, Bob. It was amazing what Mom could do with her home-canned tomatoes, garden vegetables, and a little hamburger. I waited all year for the birthday dinners she made for me and all week for Sunday dinner. Also, Bob, thanks for making an appearance here and letting my readers know you are not a figment of my over-active imagination.

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  12. Wow. Some interesting people you’ve known. Picking out the raisins is one thing, but demanding the tomato be chopped not sliced? Yowsa. Peanut butter pie sounds great. I’m not sure I’ve even heard of such a thing. I, too, like to order the exotic food. I always like trying new things. Armadillo? You can eat that? Cool. I’ll have to go somewhere where I can try that. Las Cruces? 😉

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    • Peanut butter pie is especially good with a crushed, chocolate wafer crust and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. Oh my. I had many good meals in Las Cruces, but none included armadillo. I ate that rare food in a rain forest in Belize; I’ve never forgotten the experience and the food.

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      • Oh, Belize! Shoot, I was hoping it was something SW. That’s where you find armadillos, right? Pretty sure. Anyway, maybe you should make another visit down that way with a hunting gun and an exotic cookbook in tow. 😉

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      • You always make me giggle, and didn’t fail to do so with this comment! And, yes, armadillos are found in the southwest — and in rain forests evidently. I can’t imagine they shipped in fresh or frozen armadillo for the delight of their customers.

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      • I just grew out of most of it. Some of the residual pickiness, I jettisoned when I married a widower with three children who had different habits than I did, and I conformed to their family. MY family were just, “Oh, that’s just Marian; you know how she is.” But I didn’t want to look odd to my husband’s mother and siblings, and I wanted to make the change as untraumatic as possible for the children. Then I wrote a food column for a few years for an online recipe site, and challenged myself to try one new food a month. Still working on the pickiness that’s left. lol

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      • I’m impressed with the effort you made as you formed a new family; and it amuses me that a self-confessed picky eater wrote a food column and tried a new food every month. You are something, and your will power must be amazing.

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  13. This made me laugh Janet! It is so true. In fact, JL and I were discussing this just the other night. JL commented that eating improved his mood, especially after losing his temper over something trivial.
    As for picky eaters, Kelsey wins that distinction hands down. She would take walnuts out of JL’s birthday cake, onions and tomatoes from any dish, but loved Chef Boradee ravioli. It got to the point where if she didn’t like what I cooked for dinner she could either not eat or make her own. Now, she is quite the foodie (she still won’t eat fish) and has turned into quite a cook. It was really hard for JL and I, as we like just about everything and had a hard time understanding where this child came from. It’s nice that it turned out fine in the end.

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    • I thought you might enjoy this blog, Janice. I’ve always known you and JL shared my gusto for food. I didn’t know Kelsey was a picky eater, and I can see how that would have been difficult for you and JL. I think it’s cool she’s changed her ways.

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  14. Ohhh Aunt Beulah, I have SO enjoyed this fabulous post. You shared such wonderful memories – one of which made me howl with laughter. I shall never be able to look at a chocolate covered strawberry without giggling and thinking of you – ever again!

    I think I would love to see a big party organised by you and I, – inviting all our much loved bloggers, and each person is to bring their own most favourite comfort food. (Stipulation: they have to bring enough for everyone to have a try of it).

    Can you imagine the tables, heaving under the weight of cake, chocolate, ice-cream, salmon, strawberries (chocolate covered and not), chicken feet (chicken feet??? nooo .. absolutely not for me.. bleugh!) ….. and all sorts of varieties of savoury and sweet delicacies.

    What a party that would be, eh? lol. Whether we’d all live through it or collapse in a heap of over-indulgence is anyone’s guess. But I’ve a feeling it would be a giggling heap of fun. LOL.

    Aww, a truly brilliant post, Aunt Beulah. Love it …. and you. But you know that anyway. 😀
    Sending love and squidges ~ Cobs. xxx

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  15. How fun to read your story, laugh out loud and have pictures of my family pop up! We ate to console, to make others happy, to enjoy others company, and just because it was noon or 5:30 pm.
    I love it when I take time and enjoy the preparation for others to come eat our food. That is ‘good company’ indeed.

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  16. I’m a foodie too, Janet. As are most of my friends. I enjoyed your peanut butter pie story because one Friday night in Detroit, long ago, two friends and I drove 40 miles for slices of peanut butter pie at a restaurant deemed to have the best peanut butter pie in Michigan.
    I love going to really good restaurants and trying new dishes but here in Price it’s very difficult to find a good restaurant. So Tim and I do it ourselves.
    Tonight we’re having homemade pizza (yes, I make the dough) while watching the Academy Awards.
    Bon appetit!

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    • Your homemade dinner sounds perfect for Oscar viewing, Rita. Living in Craig, Joel and I also feel our best dining opportunities are at home. We made Tuscan white beans and chicken last night and gave the dish a big thumbs up. Was the drive peanut butter pie worth the 40 minute drive?

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      • Yes, the peanut butter pie was worth the drive!
        Tuscan white beans and chicken sounds like a tasty and healthy dish. Cooking and eating at home can be so much fun. The clean-up, however, can be another matter. But we still enjoy it!

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  17. I wonder what today’s young professionals with their various health kicks would make of the unfiltered enjoyment of food you and the comments exhibit. And not a mention of guilt!
    However in defence of picky eaters, my mother was one , as was my brother – until he married a fabulous cook. My adult daughter is also sensitive to tastes and textures. Yesterday she told me she could smell the yoghurt was a different brand. If only she had the health and the interest I’m sure she have a great career as a Winemaker!

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    • It’s always good to hear from you, Sally. I, too, have loved ones who are picky eaters. They have explained to me how certain tastes, smells and, even more, textures are off-putting to them. I understand not wanting to eat foods that cause that reaction for them. My objection is when some folks impose their limitations on others with remarks like, “Oh, I don’t know how you can stand to eat that.”

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  18. A post so relevant to today, Janet. There seem to be so many allergies today that we’d never heard of when we were young. It amuses me too, to hear what my writing group order when we go for a coffee. Typical: ‘Soy latte, very hot.’ I love my food, though I must confess cream doesn’t agree with me anymore, though I sometimes eat it for the pure enjoyment in the moment!

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    • Allergies do complicate the unfettered joy eating brought to our childhoods. And, alas, there are foods I love that no longer agree with me, though, like you, I tenjoy them every so often because I love them so. I laughed at the description of your book club ordering. I think the same would happen with any group of ladies I belong to.

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  19. Oh what a great post! I loved your comment to Trudy! I have a sister who would have said the same thing! Too funny! I agree with Cobs, those chocolate covered strawberries will have a new meaning! And a chuckle!
    Growing up in a large family (there are 7 of us “kids”), we were all taught to eat what was put on your plate. We had to clean our entire plate before we were excused from the table. If it was something we really didn’t like, we still had to eat it, and were threatened with having to eat it for breakfast if we didn’t finish. Needless to say, we all learned to eat whatever was put in front of us.
    We all loved going to our grandparents. At home, there were not a lot of desserts. But at Grandma’s! Oh my. My paternal grandmother always had a saying “A meal is not complete unless it ends in something sweet!” And she always has something sweet.
    And peanut butter pie! Yes please!
    My husband is somewhat of a picky eater. When we got married I remember the first time that I made a meat loaf. My husband told me that he didn’t like meatloaf. I had spent some time making it and he wasn’t going to eat it! Ugh! He told me that his mother made meatloaf and he hated it. I told him that I was not his mother, and I had my own recipes. I told him he had to at least try it…..well, he loved it. Now he is always wanting me to make it. I told him that foods taste different when they are made by different cooks, even if it is the same recipe. Now, he at least is willing to try something, at least once. I don’t have a lot of time to experiment a lot in the kitchen because I am still working, but look out when I retire! He’s going to try a lot of new foods! (I’m always looking for new recipes that are quick. He does some of the cooking now as he is already retired. I must say, his cooking is a little “blah”. However, when cooking on the grill, he does a much better job!
    Oh my, I have rattled on awhile. Thanks so much for sharing! I loved your post! 🙂

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    • What a wonderful comment, Nancee. I love your anecdote about your husband and meatloaf and admire the way you handled the situation. It sounds like he’s come a long way since you were newlyweds. I was raised much as you were. There were seven children; we weren’t rich; and the expectation was that we’d eat what was served, which we happily did. We were hungry and my mom was a good cook. I like the saying, “A meal is not complete unless it ends in something sweet!” and will remember it. My grandmother and great aunts always wanted to give us “just enough to fill your sweet tooth,” as they heaped dessert on our plates. Thank you for rattling on. I enjoyed every word.

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  20. Right on! fellow foodie!
    Your self-restraint is at once humorous and admirable – I think it would so me good to keep my thoughts to myself when it doesn’t serve a positive purpose!

    My folks are also firm believers that a good meal will make things right in the world. Thank you for sharing the time one the step at your grandmother’s wake; this is certainly a scene I empathise with. The power of shared grief, companionable silence, and healing food.

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    • I knew we were fellow foodies! I appreciate your commenting on the anecdote that ended this piece. It was my favorite part of the post because of, to use your words, ” The power of shared grief, companionable silence, and healing food.” I felt very close to my dad in those moments.

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  21. I’m so pleased to hear that food is so popular with all of you. I love my food too & since I have been “slimming down” a bit for a month, it was good to hear about all that comfort food. There is so much advice online about what’s bad for you that I think you have inspired me to celebrate Easter with my own Mum’s comfort food recipe which is treacle tart – the pastry made with lard and the filling is breadcrumbs and golden syrup. Absolutely delicious and don’t ask me why we don’t call it golden syrup tart, but we never did.

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    • Oh, Maddie, treacle tart sounds wonderful. So much so that I Googled it and found several recipes that had the ingredients you describe plus a couple of them added lemon zest or juice and cream. I think I might try to make one for Easter as well. Then, as one foodie to another, we’ll eat our Easter treacle tart with pleasure.

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  22. Ma grew a big garden every summer, I wish now I had had more respect for that good, fresh food. I abhored cooked veg, prefered them raw from the dirt. With meat our uncles hunted and fish from the sea ,we were very self sufficient, think of it often..great post Janet.

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    • I feel the same about the gardens my parents grew; I mainly remember complaining when I had to weed them. And now i complain because I can’t get good produce at the supermarket. Go figure. I also, to this day, prefer raw veggies and fruit perhaps because my parents let us eat raw produce whenever we wanted.We didn’t have fruit trees, but my great uncle Alan did, and he was very generous with us. And finally, in this comment in which I seem to have discovered three more ways we think alike, I marvel at how self sufficient my parents were. My dad and brothers also hunted and fished for much of our meat. Add that to the milk cows Dad kept and I understand why we always had something to eat.

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  23. Droll and dry all in one delicious snack:). That you for satiating our appetite! And funeral food–always made by the elder women in the parish–rocks. Green bean casserole and desserts that taste like home:).

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  24. I like your first sentence, Kay, as well as the fact that you appreciate funeral food as well. All the older women in my extended family knew how to provide it. Usually there were three or four desserts to choose from.

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  25. Hi Aunt Beulah
    Annie from Oz tuning in to your recent story on WP.
    Crikey if confessed to my current diet, they would take me away in a straight jacket, kickin’ and screamin’ and lock me in a cell for months with a flamin’ nutritionist.
    If I don’t get my warm muffin’ with fresh whipped cream and a cuppa, every day I
    I confess I am not a happy chappy. Comfort food is staple diet in our house, my budiful Mum was a bonzer cook, friends and family would call by for a feed nearly every day. No flies on them they knew where they could put the nosebag on.
    I am not like my kind hearted Mum, I tell eveyone I can’t cook to save myself, so only the invited foodies get their legs under the table at my house.
    I stand beside you Aunt Beulah and confess out loud ” I am a foodie” and I’m salivating as I am say it.
    Look out! My sticky date muffin and caramelized sauce with fresh whipped cream, and a cappuccino will go down real nice..num num num!!!
    Cheers my budiful foodie friend on the other side of the world
    The old saying ” eat ’til your hearts content” is a rippa Mantra don’t ya think?
    Love your story, the way to my heart is anything to do with food. I
    Love you Aunt Beulah, you write the absolute best stories..
    Big hugs headed your way wrapped in love
    From
    Annie in Australia 🌴🌞🌊❤❤❤❤❤
    P.S I popped a couple of stories on my WP site. Take a peek when you get a chance. You will note an undertone of frustration. I am booked for more surgery on 28th March..Dash it all!! All will be well though, soldier on!! 😞😯☺❤❤❤

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    • I laughed, giggled and enjoyed your exuberant personality, loving your comment, and then I read you are scheduled for more surgery. Oh, I wish it weren’t so! Have courage my friend. Your health has battered your soaring spirit time and again, but you always find your way back to the person you are and life you love. I’ll be thinking about you, hoping and praying. Thanks for the heads up on your blog. I’ll soon be there.
      Love, love, love.
      Janet

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  26. I adore eating, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Like you I also have no richness limit. The sweeter the better!

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