I had a boss once who didn’t like food. He had the palette of a 4-year-old.
He’d eat spaghetti with 70s-style Ragu™ sauce that was most likely corn starch, corn syrup solids and red dye no. 2 and yellow dye no. 6. No meat product. No mushrooms. No chunks of anything. Nothing but a red-ish orange coating on well cooked starch.
He’d eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too. Always creamy peanut butter. Always grape jelly, since preserves or jams had an unpleasant texture–which for him was any texture. It was important to him to be healthy, so he spread the peanut butter and jelly on wheat bread, soft wheat bread. He was proud of himself when he tried quiche. He liked it. We’d joke and call it egg pie. He called himself sophisticated.
The guy took no pleasure out of food. He ate to live.
I was thinking about the relationships we have to food. His relationship would be considered a good one by many. Food had no power over him. It was not imbued with a special meaning. It gave him no reward. It wasn’t a treat. It was fuel.
I sent Baby Bear some chocolates with a request to be his Valentine. I sent it as a gift. I sent it because I love him. I sent some common chocolate and some better chocolate.
The common chocolate is good. It’s a quick hit of sweet and crunch. The chocolate wraps around a cookie wafer. The combination is good. You might hold the candy between your fingers as you bite it, and if you’re slow, it leaves some residue that you lick off. It can incite a smile.
The better chocolate is richer and darker. It has some sweet. It has some layers of bitter, too, like cherry coffee beans. When you bite it there is a satisfying snap. If you let it sit on your tongue it begins to break down. It becomes thick and creamy and swirly. There is a richness, a mouthfeel that helps you remember it after it melts away.
When you share the chocolate with someone–especially the better chocolate–you look at each other and say, “mmmmmm.” You might slightly close your eyes as you savor it.
I love food. I raised my kids to love food. And we love it together. We reward ourselves with a good dinner or maybe even ice cream. It wasn’t so much used as a bribe, but we would use circumstance as a justification to take pleasure in the taste and experience of food. A good report card was an excuse for Momma’s Fried Chicken. And a birthday was a reason to make paella for a table full of his friends. It’s making it sometimes. Or buying it sometimes [this one was REALLY good].
It’s definitely not about volume, but it is about consuming and enjoying. Both at the same time. In some books this is not a healthy relationship with food.
I smell the onions and garlic in a tomatoey sweet homemade sauce. It’s chunky and spicy and full of good fats and hot Italian sausage. The Spouse is making it. We will sit down and eat it. He made it for me. It makes me feel loved. We are living to eat.
I know. I’m doing it wrong, again.