My poem “On Hunger” is live today at Nashville Review. It’s about my brother. As with many of my pieces, it’s also about food.
I think appetite matters. I kind of believe the whole “tell me how you eat & I’ll tell you who you are” thing, though I admit it’s not always completely accurate, and I’m not sure I want to look too closely at my own life through that lens.
I’ve been on the road for five of the last six weeks. I’ve eaten one of the best meals of my life with some of the dearest people in my life. I’ve eaten a lot of fast food. I’ve eaten a lot of candy. During our one week at home, my husband & I ate 2 pounds of blueberries in 36 hours.
I’ve chopped vegetables with boys I love—-not really boys any longer, but people I’ve known so long that I still think of them that way. I’ve cooked with a lot of people this year, actually, and I’ve gotten a lot of recipes. I watched my friend B make chili, and think I can recreate it (sort of) at home. I got a yummy and easy rice recipe from friends in Alabama after the tornado. I was treated to a New Mexico feast by my friend Farren, and that dish—calabacitas—has become one of my favorites. I start with the basics Farren taught me—squash & zucchini, corn tortillas, chiles, cheese—and then add whatever’s on hand. Last week, we stumbled on a pretty stellar addition of toasted walnuts & nutmeg. This dish will be in our regular rotation for a long time.
I recognize that there are many problems with approaching food emotionally. But I can’t escape it. For me, it’s there. And when I cook things I’ve shared with or learned from people I love, it makes me happy. It’s not quite the same as them being there with me, but it’s a good substitute.
So here’s my new favorite, learned this past weekend at the beach from Dave, one of the beloved boys I chopped vegetables with: find a recipe for rice krispy treats, only instead of rice krispys, use oreos. Divine. Dave, Stowe, Colin, & I finished the last of the batch late Friday night, after coming in from a beach walk on which we’d seen a nest of sea turtles hatch. From now on, whenever I make this dessert, I’ll think of that night—-of being with a family you’ve loved & been loved by for years, of birth and renewal, of joy, and—because I was thinking of him as I watched those tiny fledgling turtles race, against all odds, to the surf—I’ll think of my brother, too, and how we carry the people we love.
It sounds simple: oreos, butter, marshmallows. But what it says to me is love.
For the record, last night I went grocery shopping & bought 8 different kinds of fruit. This morning’s breakfast was raspberries & coffee with skim milk. As I type this, I’m still nursing my coffee. I’m also eating red grapes. Soon I’ll move onto cherries, then blueberries, and that’s how the day will go—a flash of fresh color, a little taste of something sweet.
I hope your day holds the same. Love big. Eat what’s delicious. Be well.