Settle an old argument for me. My wife and I have fought about this since our youngest was a baby. It’s become a dispute bigger than the East Coast/West Coast beef in American rap or whether Didi Hallervorden or Fips Asmussen wrote the first-ever German one-liner. Think Kramer vs. Kramer.
It’s important I get this settled today because it’s our 13th wedding anniversary.
It started when our first kid was just a year old. My wife offered her a Nutella-laden spot of Brötchen (bread roll).
“What are you doing?” I demanded. “Do you want to get her hooked on chocolate at this early of an age?”
My statement seemed to puzzle my wife. She looked at me as though I had suddenly turned into a cloud of semi-transparent gas that was whispering commands to her in a language never before heard in this solar system. She didn’t know whether to laugh at the discovery of a talking gaseous mass or cry because she was obviously hallucinating.
“It’s just Nutella,” she said. “I’ve eaten it my entire life and look at me.” I don’t actually know if she said that “look at me” bit but it’s what I always hear when we talk food because I’m clearly the American in the relationship, if you know what I mean. I’m overweight, is what I’m saying.
She’s obviously the European.
“It’s chocolate and that’s a baby!” I hollered. Despite insisting that my kids carry both a blue and a red passport, I’ve inwardly always hoped that they would adopt their mother’s eating habits but get everything else from me. On that day, the half a square centimeter of Brötchen with a drop of Nutella was about to ruin that.
“It’s Nutella and I’ve eaten it my whole life (and look at me),” she said again. Then she leaned into her wife-of-an-American toolbox and said: “Plus, you were giving her peanut butter yesterday and there’s no difference.”
Which is where you come in. Have you ever heard anything so absurd? Me neither.
Nutella and peanut butter are in different galaxies. Peanut butter in its purest form is crushed peanuts – straight from the earth – mixed with a dash of salt. Ok, you might mix in some butter and two dashes of salt and the peanuts are actually roasted but that’s it. It’s food so pure Adam and Eve probably dined on it before partaking in a pomegranate. Neanderthals maybe even ate peanut butter and they weren’t capable of sin because all of that hadn’t been invented yet.
Peanut butter is pure and natural.
Nutella, on the other hand, was invented by an industrialized society trying to trick people into believing hazelnuts were chocolate. It worked! Nutella tastes great! But it’s a chocolate made by heavy machinery and should only be consumed for dessert or as a treat. Heavy machinery is nothing for babies or the main course.
I tolerate it on the breakfast table because I know an entire country would revolt if I expressed distaste but I don’t really believe that anyone – not even Germans – would believe that it’s the same thing as peanut butter.
“Honey,” I now often tell my daughter, “maybe one Brötchen half with Nutella is enough.” She’ll be a teenager soon but the Nutella poisoning took hold. She loves the stuff.
My wife will scowl at me across the breakfast table.
“So you get to have two or three Brötchen halves covered in peanut butter but she only gets to have a half with Nutella?”
It’s a wonder we’re still married.