I’m toying with the idea of making Fridays “Foodie Fridays” or something less twee, but the last thing I need is to get locked into another Every Damn Week Post (although I will admit that most of the ones we’ve got now just involve finding a picture and saying, “Hey, what did you read/work on this week?” so not labor intensive. Even Cherry Saturdays require minimal research. Happiness Sundays are a bitch, though). And yet I feel an intense need to talk about food, and I’ve seen leanings that way in the comments, too. The problem is, right now food is a problem for me. Or a solution that I haven’t quite arrived at yet. Which pretty much sums up my life.
Where was I?
Right, food. Here’s the thing: my health has involved me imbibing eight pills a day, one or more of which has killed my appetite completely and created a kind of very low level nausea that means the idea of food was something I avoided. This meant that I didn’t notice I hadn’t eaten until I started to get dizzy, and then I’d grab the nearest thing to hand, usually a piece of bread or some Braunschweiger (don’t ask, it’s an obsession from childhood). Once I realized what was going on–I lost so much weight I’m actually a normal weight for my height now–I realized that I was going to have to something radical: cook. Which I used to do really well.
Back in the dark ages, I got married, and my mother had never taught me to cook, so I was terrible in the kitchen. My ex-husband had some good qualities, among them eating without complaining all of my disasters. After about a month of that, I thought, “This is ridiculous. I’m not in school, I’m not working, I’m a smart. woman, learn how to do this, Jenny,” and I did. I studied, I started with the basics, I added sauces, and before long I was stuffing butter under the skin of chickens before I roasted them, making roux that was a thing of beauty, marinating food that practically made my husband weep with joy (or relief, I couldn’t tell). I became, in our small circle, a cooking goddess. And we ate. My god, we ate.
Then things happened and I stopped cooking (kid, job, marriage in hell, etc.). And after that I was a single mom working two jobs and going to grad school at night, so I never picked up the fancy stuff again. There was just no time.
Fast forward decades and now I realize that if I lose another ten pounds, my doctor is going to start sizing me up for an eating disorder (okay, another twenty pounds) and also this is bad for my heart. But this time, instead of studying to get back what I lost, I took a short cut. I started signing up for meal services.
Here’s the good thing about meal services: they send you everything in kit form and give you directions, so every meal is like a mini-cooking-class. Here’s the bad thing about meal services: you don’t get to pick the ingredients so you’re a slave to their tastes, and some of them are just bad. Obviously some of the recipes aren’t going to hit for you, people have different tastes, but then there are the recipes that you look at it and think, “Seriously?” In the past two months, I’ve done all of the following meal services: Home Chef, Gobble, Freshly, Sunbasket, Daily Harvest, Takeout Kit, and Plated. I deleted all but Plated, some in “I don’t think so” mode, and others in “My God NO” mode. With Plated, when they go wrong, I’m thinking it’s a matter of taste, not recipe or approach failure, so I’m sticking with them; it’s such a pleasure getting the Plated box, that I’m indulging myself. Other than that, I’m done with meal services.
But trying all those different meal services did remind me that I love food. Not just eating it, which has been vastly diminished by the no-appetite-low-grade-nausea stuff, but looking at it, choosing it, working with it, cooking it. I’d forgotten that one of the reasons I’d been such a good cook way back when was that it was so wonderful to do. One of the reasons I stuck with Sunbasket as long as I did was that their ingredients were so superb and packaged so well that I just wanted to pat everything as it came out of the box, the way I’d chortled over great ingredients way back when (also their jambalaya was really delicious and they were the service that introduced me to sambal oelek, which is phenomenal stuff). One of the reasons I dumped one of the other services was that they sent me a package of Marzetti Salad Dressing. (That was one of the Are You Kidding Me moments, surpassed only by the first delivery from Freshly which was packaged pre-cooked meals in little Lean Cuisine plastic trays.) I will admit that one of the best meals I got from Gobble was their Osso Buco for which they’d already prepared the meat–if you sign up for that, DEFINITELY get the Osso Buco–but otherwise I like the services that give you all the ingredients, raw and beautiful, and then say, “Cook this.”
And that sent me to food blogs. I was already flirting with Voraciously, the Washington Post food blog, and the AV Club has a great informal food blog called The Takeout, and I hit Epicurious often because it’s a great resource and because my cousin Russ writes for them sometime, (that’s Russ Parsons, former food editor for the LA Times, whom I brag about every chance I get because he is WONDERFUL, and man can he cook), but mostly I just follow my curiosity. I now have one hellacious list of bookmarked recipes and a passionate need to cook again. And think about food. And talk about food.
But I don’t think I can handle Food Fridays. Especially with that name. Although I could just put up posts that say, “So what did you cook/bake/eat/drink this week?” and let you all have at it, you guys are good at that. Even if you don’t cook, you must eat, so we’d all have something to talk about. I don’t know. I’m conflicted. I think I’ll go make something while I think it over. I have a meal kit for Steak Frites, but maybe I’ll save that for tonight and just do a goose liver sandwich. Or try to eat the sweet and sour chicken from last night which has WAY too much sugar in it, which completely drowned the Cippolini onions, but I forgive Plated for that one because the barbecued chicken (they didn’t send BBQ sauce, they sent vinegar and sugar and tomatoes and herbs and I made my own and it was heaven) was fantastic. Hmmm.
Food. It’s my latest obsession.
What do you think?