Food is both my currency and my confessor. I feed people, occasionally for a living. And, like other women before me, I use food to show love.
Bad boyfriend problems? Come over and I’ll make you a lusty mixed-seafood pasta with red pepper and tomatoes, white wine, garlic and fresh parsley, served with an equally brazen Zinfandel and lots of crusty bread melting with don’t-tell-your-cardiologist slabs of sweet cream butter.
|Karen’s Basque Beef Stew over Creamy Polenta
Depressed by the relentless cold of winter? Then it’s a saucy beef and mushroom stew made with a robust red wine and served over creamy polenta in pasta bowls decorated with colorful pictures of circus horses and hedgehogs.
My friends know that if they need solace, want to celebrate, or simply have a yen to immerse themselves in the pleasures of food, my house is the place to come.
Indulgence is my thing. And food is love.
|Cupcakes for Ava
|Of course I reach for it for solace, for comfort, too. A midnight call from my mother with a giant, uncooperative brain aneurysm that turns into an early morning then all day trip to three different ERs sends me right to the grocery store in search of a four-pack of white cupcakes made from sugar and shortening and little else. Even now, as I write this, I can feel the soothing purr of my brain, an always “on” creature that pops and sizzles like bacon, as I swallow by the mouthful the spongy cake and thick, fake buttercream. An upsurge of what can only be described as euphoria rises first in my forehead and then rolls pleasingly back across the top of my head like a giant, glassy wave. I swear this sensation is exactly what heroin must feel like. I imagine the pleasure-gone face of a junkie and I know there are certain foods that can do that to me, too: Mashed potatoes, rolled tortillas with butter, ice cream. Foods I avoid.
|This weekend, though, life delivered a trifecta of anxiety and grief: On top of filing my taxes and grading midterms and answer a thousand emails and just plain exhaustion, a well-into her 40s girlfriend is going on 48 hours at the hospital trying to deliver her first child and my mother who has been dying for over a year, turned agonizingly worse. With the city-dwelling boyfriend stuck some 55 miles away, I was left unexpectedly to navigate these choppy seas by myself.
First thing? I quit my diet. I’m always watching what I eat and working, working, working out. Yet I am a size 16. I eat less than my friends, but who cares? I’m not thin so whatever I put into my mouth is viewed as an indictment. In a fit of “Fuck you, world” brio, I roasted a skin-on turkey breast, made mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream served with pan drippings, cranberry sauce, green beans, and a white cake with chocolate icing. Then I drank almost a whole bottle of wine. It felt great going down, but by 2am, I was awake, my heart thud-thud-thudding.
Today, after meeting with hospice about my mom, I thought I would try yoga instead. For 90 minutes all was good with the world. Then I went home and ate a veggie burger with avocado and grilled sweet potato fries with loads of mayonnaise, plus the left over mashed potatoes. I threw out the cake. Still, I spent the rest of the day in bed.
I am still looking for the food that will give me solace after such a weekend, but I’m too full from the last two days to eat dinner tonight.
I think I’ll pop in a video instead.