I’ve been reading food fiction through lockdown. It was a little surprise since I’ve never been either a foodie or an enthusiastic cook. Food has been fuel, a functional need at best. My perfectionism has come into my daily breakfast making, a tidy workspace cleaned of shells and peelings after I boil an egg, build a sandwich.
But in lockdown, I have found myself needing nourishment of the mind as well as the body. My physical health has been very decent these past few weeks and I realised some part of it is because I’m not eating outside food. It’s not just the ingredients, it’s the callousness of fellow diners who smoke, the impersonal touch of paid cooks, the self-esteem issues of dining companions that I can taste in every morsel I eat in those messy environs. Home, I’m only dealing with the very familiar dynamics of people I’ve known my whole life and food, similarly so.
@ayushee.ghoshal posted a picture of her poached egg experiment which made me pipe up about mine. I’d been making my breakfast in a fog of irritation at the weather & confinement. But our conversation made me think of the parts of my reading I’ve liked and the ones I didn’t.
I feel soothed by remembering the universality of food. It’s a positive counterpoint to the negative universality of a virus that doesn’t discriminate. It makes me feel connected to all human beings everywhere – our needs for nourishment, for protection, for affection, for validation, for community. I did not like reading about fashionable food circles, about toxic human politics brought onto the table. It feels wrong on a cellular level to poison the one thing that HAS to be wholesome.
But I guess we also need air to be clean, our minds to navigate conversations that are enriching (not combative). It makes me surer about not glorifying rage, about the importance of personal responsibility, about gratitude over guilt.
This morning, I thought about these things instead of how my hair was sticking to the back of my neck. And the eggs turned out beautifully. After all, all things do well when shown care.