If Yan Could Cook. . .

On Eating

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I just realized, with a small degree of horror, that I love to eat. Not the way a wastingly thin member of the upper class might say that, in the middle of a globe-trotting hunt for the perfect olive oil and the world’s greatest chocolatier, nor even just that I love to cook or that I love food. I love the actual process of mastication, of being in a state of eating, putting food in your mouth and chewing and feeling it enter your body. I would rather be eating than not eating. I would rather be eating and walking than just walking, rather be eating and reading a book than just reading. The best part of alcohol and vigourous exercise is that food tastes better afterward. The best part of vacations is the exotic food. There is almost nothing I can be doing that doesn’t make me want to reach for something to eat.

This has obvious consequences, both in terms of weight control and childlike stomachaches (“Well, Jimmy, that’s what you get for eating all that pie in one sitting!”), and the embarrassed delight of eating potato chips in the street. But I didn’t realize that I had anything I would characterize as a “problem” with food until I watched the astonished expressions of my siblings, on this trip, as I cleared the table. I always thought my whole family ate the way I did, but now their appetites seem dainty, birdlike, and I feel like an ogre ravaging the fields.

I’ve tried filling my house with fruit (because how can you overeat fruit, really), but it just gets ridiculous – no amount of fruit is large enough that I won’t eat it all in two days. It’s also distressing to have to treat yourself like a manipulative six-year-old, rarely having junk food in the house, keeping it on the topmost shelves, trying in vain to reason with its stubborn, illogical demands (“I. Want. A. COOKIE!”).

What I love most of all is eating in restaurants, every part of it, but particularly a long, slow, luxurious meal with one other person. Restaurant meals with lots of downtime where you can do nothing but speak in easy, intimate tones, lulled by good food and alcohol. There is no one in my life who shares this passion. For all of my friends, the question posed by dining out is usually “How quickly and cheaply can I get this over with?” or is something you only do with your significant other.

Someone told me, in that neofreudian way, that food is fulfilling another need that has nothing to do with taste or hunger, that underneath I am lonely, or horny, or unstimulated, or simply lost. It’s not like this is news to me. It’s not that food is fulfilling one need; it’s that it fulfills all needs. Look, here is guaranteed pleasure, in small, discrete amounts, that demands nothing of you, that can be bought everywhere, at any time, that you can manufacture at will, that society condones engaging in several times a day, that always feels good – whether elegant, social, and creative, or quick, dirty, and alone – and will always be there for you, so long as you survive.

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Written by skimfu

August 28, 2008 at 1:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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