Like most people who work a standard weekday daytime job, my favorite part of the week is when I leave work on Friday evening, because I know that’s when I have the most amount of time left before I have to be back at my desk on Monday. It’s not that I hate my job; I don’t love it, but it doesn’t cause me the heartburn, carpal tunnel, and chronic headaches caused by stress-induced teeth grinding that my last job did, so that’s something. It’s just that I love my free time more. I am fiercely protective of it, I hoard the time I can spend alone in a pair of fat pants.
With that said, my second favorite part of the week is on Saturday morning. I’ve just woken up after sleeping late, I’ve started in on a pot of the good coffee (Folger’s during the week, fancy locally-roasted stuff on weekends), I’ve checked Facebook and queued up the next couple of days on Tumblr and am ready to start reading about food.
I love reading about food. It might be my favorite topic, even above music and linguistics and literature (although this recent review of Helen Oyeyemi’s “Boy, Snow, Bird” is probably the most terrifically beautiful lit review in recent memory, and I’m not just saying that because I’m currently borrowing/adoring “White is for Witching”).
I love reading about food because I love food, obviously, but also because I love making food, and I love learning about food, and I love knowing about food because I love the anthropological reasons why certain food exists. I mean, you can eat Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day all you want, but isn’t it better when you know that it’s good luck, and that the greens represent money and the cornbread represents gold and why oh why did I let 2014 get away from me because I just couldn’t find the time to put the meal together this year?
Isn’t it better to know that shakshuka is so revered that many North African families consider the sauce to be a freezer staple, and about the crazy hard work that goes into a mole so that when you’re gifted some by a friend you cradle the container as you would a jewel? Isn’t it more rewarding to eat a sauce when you’re aware that it’s considered a mother in terms of cuisine, and don’t you feel proud of yourself for enjoying something that Child You would have refused to touch, sitting stubborn at the kitchen table even after your parents and sister had finished, washed the dishes, and left you there facing a cold plate as a form of punishment?
I can’t deny that I’m a glutton at heart, but I take a negligible amount of pride at avoiding the taco seasoning vs. Skinny Girl wastelands of Pinterest and understanding real food, the way it should taste and how to prepare it. I make a weekly meal plan not because I’m a diet mullah, but because I love the act of finding foods and writing them down. Yes, my brain likes lists and it also likes cursive, but it also also likes having something to look forward to every day. And how am I not supposed to look forward to any of this?!
(Correct. I am even looking forward to the brown rice bowl because heyyyyy, romesco!)
This is not to say that I am immune to the lure of half-off delivery, Cheez-Its on sale, or pints locally-made ice cream (especially Snoqualmie’s Danish Vanilla Bean because unf). But to me, cooking food like this is a better use of my money, a little easier on my blood pressure, and offers a greater sense of satisfaction than does tricking myself into thinking that chips and salsa counts as an entire meal.