Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beautiful Words

Hello strangers! Yes, I know, it's been a pitifully long time since I've last posted. Since our last chat, I've been to Boston and back for my sissy's college graduation, attended a baseball game, turned in three papers, graded 65 midterms, read 8 books and 9 articles (I think, I've sort of lost track) and attended class. Not to mention, been really really sick, found a bit of time to sleep, and snuggled with Winston. I have 3.5 weeks left of the quarter and as much as I love my program, I'm ready for summer. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot to accomplish over summer, but a little breathing space is much needed. And perhaps most importantly, I need to cook.

My relationship with food is suffering. I'm rectifying the baking situation this weekend when I plan to make two cakes (one for my birthday and one for my brother's), but regular food and I have come across some tough times. The truth is, I need a life pause button and I know I'm not the only one. I want to want to cook. Really I do. I miss loving it. But, I don't really have time to try new things right now and I hate making my go-to, boring, barely scraping by meals over and over again. So I've been relying on cereal. and yogurt. and whatever leftovers my mom gives me when I see her. Mostly because I also don't have time to go grocery shopping. In the process I've sort of grown to resent eating. I don't have time to make proper meals, so trying to scrounge up something is not a fun process. It's more of a burden or annoyance. It's a rather sad state of affairs. It's not like I would be making super fancy, five course meals if I all of a sudden got a bunch of extra time. But have you been to a farmer's market lately? I'm dying to buy some produce and make something super fresh, delicious and simple. Frankly, I don't really want to, but I know as soon as I get back into it, I'll rediscover my love affair with food. I'm hoping to make a great flavor-filled dinner tomorrow which I can share, and of course I'll be back with my cake discussion next week. Then, once my summer comes, prepare yourself. Posts are going to be flying like hot cakes.

In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about food and meaning today. This entire post hovers dangerously near that existential line that I try never to cross, but bear with me. I read an article by Anthony Bourdain in this month's Bon Apetit. It's amazing. In his shows he obviously enjoys being iconoclastic, but he writing is truly lovely. His words are beautiful. I love that he is comfortable in the fanciest of restaurants or at a taco shack on some long-forgotten street in the ghetto. As I was reading his tribute to his father, there was one phrase that really stuck out to me; "a man of simple needs". This phrase resonated mostly because it's how I've always described one-half of my brother. His job is incredibly intellectual, yet in his off-time, he is a man of simple needs. Good food, good company, sports, alcohol, and sex. And he is one of the happiest, most-full-of-life people I know. In that way he is sort of similar to Bourdain. Granted, Bourdain is much more broody, sullen at times and occasionally cranky. But reading this article, I definitely saw the "embrace all of life" side of him. It was clear to me that he lights up around his daughter and generally seems pretty happy.

At this point, I'm sure some of you are wondering why in heaven's name I'm talking about this topic. I don't blame you, but here's my reason. I think sometimes I get bogged down in my head. Scratch that. I know I get bogged down in my head. To be fair, it's sort of my job as a graduate student to spend a lot of time there. But that really shouldn't define me, or rather, I need to limit how much my brain limits me. Instead of getting all wrapped up in stress and intellectual concerns, there needs to be time for me to enjoy food like I want to. This is why I say my relationship with food is suffering. I get so concerned about calories, and trying to be thrifty, but healthy and eating the right thing at the right moment. Not to mention, I don't spend more than five minutes on food on any given day (not normally, just this quarter).

I love food. It means a lot to me. My favorite moments almost always involve eating. It makes me happy. In some ways, I am very similar to my brother and Bourdain. I love Sour Patch Watermelson and the new kind of Cheez-It cracker (the Parmesan and Cheddar duo, trust me it's amazing). But I also love fancy restaurants, snobby cheese and decadent meals. The experience is really important too. I want more of this type of thing in my life, I miss it. I need to get back on track. Not on track like a diet, but back to my food happy place. I will get there, I know it. As soon as I finish the next few books...

Until then,



  1. It is a rare but fantastic moment when our dear author gets a little existential. The Summer of 2012 has, in many ways, embodied the meaning of this post. We've enjoyed all manner of food: simple and complex, light and decadent, fresh and fried, cheap and expensive, healthy and not. What we've discovered is that, to truly enjoy and appreciate food, a person MUST be adventurous. Good food is not defined by price or number of ingredients, and it isn't just about limiting calories and maximizing energy.

    Good food is flavor, culture, history, art, satisfaction. Good food tells a story and makes an impression. Sometimes it challenges us to get out of our comfort zone (sriracha, anyone?). It doesn't matter whether you get it in a michelin-star restaurant or out of the back of a food truck. So, if you're the kind of person that treats food like fuel or orders the same thing every time you go to a restaurant, you are seriously missing out on one of the greatest shared experiences of human existence: deliciousness.

    1. The summer was a much-needed remedy to the food-dessert that was the Spring. Yay for food :).


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