Food as Practice
I’ve been in what feels like a food fugue. In the last month, I’ve spent six days eating out in Taos, NM and nine in Louisville, KY, chewing on some good, way too much bad, and even a little ugly. Since the middle of May, I have tickled my gullet with road food (caramel corn and slurpees) on the way to Taos and, on Memorial Day, with mom-inspired snacks (horseradish deviled eggs and salty kettle chips), disappointed it with a birthday dinner of chicken and waffles (sadly without the waffles), delighted it with Dim Sum Night’s Asian nachos at Chef Edward Lee’s Louisville-based Milkwood and tortured it with way too many days of powdered eggs flavored with cheese and mystery meat at a cafeteria style buffet for 1200 while reading AP literature exams in a very hot and humid Kentucky.
|Asian Nachos @Milkwood|
Back at home, my house has been a revolving door of cooking gigs seasoned with eating out and eating on the run.
In the last week alone, I’ve made a dozen hand-tossed pizzas, baked a hotel-sized pan of bacon, egg, cheese, bagel strada for kid’s cancer camp breakfast and served perfectly medium rare rosemary-lamb skewers, two types of puff-pastry tarts along with pickled shrimp and cilantro relish for 70 at a friend’s 50thbirthday bash. And for the fifteen days prior to this one, I’ve made and eaten dinner at home exactly once—a circumstance that leaves me feeling as if I’m spinning out in the stars. I am simply not one of those people who can eat out every single night. Even if the food was Michelin-starred and orgasmically good, I would end up feeling sluggish and a little cranky.
|Duck pate @Decca, Louiville|
I need food to ground me, to remind me who I am and how I’m feeling. The ritual of eating, its routines and pleasures, is as valid as daily meditation or exercise. The body responds to familiarity, it likes regularity. I experience more energy and general happiness when I stick to a food practice: fresh ingredients, not too much dairy, hold the gluten.
|Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart
w/ Feta & Caramelized Onions
I know it’s weird and slightly new-agey to call eating a practice, but it is. Careful attention to the food that pass our lips is, in my book, one of the most important things. Our bodies are, after all, our temples. When I skip my practice for too long—just like skipping exercise or 30 minutes of morning mantra—my days go grey and boggy: I feel stuck in mud or held under water.
|Asparagas & Goat Cheese tart|
So taking my cue from the newness of the season and the relatively travel- and gig-free stretch I’ve got coming up, I’m getting back into my practice: Breakfast smoothies with nuts and berries and coconut oil, salad and garden cuttings with more nuts and avocado for lunch and something creative for dinner that not only feeds the body but has the potential to inspire a multitude of things: maybe it’s conversation or a little unwinding, or maybe it’s simple togettherness. Never underestimate the value of a lovely home-cooked meal.
Then Greg and I will eat them with fresh snap peas out in the garden which is jumping up in great leaps and lunges. We’ll sip wine or beer in the cooling evening air and I’ll let my toes dig into the grass beneath my feet, feeling cool earth and waiting for the night sky to make stars.