I’m so tired of eating! It’s such a burden suddenly, that daily demand my body puts on me, which my soul usually greets with passionate enthusiasm. Now my soul feels bilious and bored, and my body feels like a gras goose’s foie, and we have nothing to eat in the house, anyway. But that means we have to go grocery shopping, which means thinking hard about food yet again. I just can’t face it. I wish I enjoyed fasting, I’d do it for a solid week and then subsist on lentils for another week, but it’s not in me. So we’ll haul out the cloth bags and hie us down to the supermarket to mooch around the produce section and seafood counter…
We got back to town yesterday afternoon, just in time for me to go to Pilates to try to recover a little dignity. It was quite a week, just Brendan and me in the farmhouse with Dingo. On Tuesday, we had harissa haddock with chorizo and wild rice. The night before Thanksgiving, I made a sumptuous moose loaf with green beans and roasted potatoes. On Thanksgiving itself, we humans had Maine oysters with shallots and vinegar, buckwheat-buttermilk blini with salmon roe and crème fraiche and chives and dill, more blini with a spectacular sheep’s cheese, and a fresh non-GMO free range organic lovely little chicken roasted with 5 thick slices of bacon draped over the top, stuffed with sage and lemon, with whole shallots and garlic cloves riding along, and a schmear of duckfat underneath just because. Brendan made sweet-potato gnocchi, light and soft and pillowy, drenched in brown butter and sage. We had steamed kale with golden raisins and lemon zest, roasted Brussels sprouts with lardons and a whisper of caramelized brown sugar. I made cranberry sauce with maple syrup, clementine zest, lemon zest, apple juice, and a minced apple. We had pumpkin pie with whipped cream, big strawberries lavishly dipped in melted dark chocolate, and a box of ripe little clementines we peeled and ate one by one by the fire. All week long, we drank whiskey-applejack cocktails called Autumn Bonfires, invented by Rosie in a bygone year, and bottles of beautiful wine, and cava with blood orange juice.
We tried to do other things besides eating and drinking. At 11 every morning, we dutifully took Dingo on the fast four-mile walk he looks forward to and demands. Every afternoon, I read a book, whatever book I wanted, up in a hot bath for hours while Brendan worked downstairs. One night, we even hauled out our violin and guitar and book of fiddle tunes and made some noises that weren’t altogether horrific. We read “The Secret Garden” out loud to each other. We played marathon games of “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” by the fire, the bowl of clementines dwindling, the woodsmoke tinged with orange peel. We listened to medieval choral music and sang happily along to a particularly sprightly Spanish one whose chorus goes, as far as we can tell, “Pickly pee, pickly pee, pickly pickly pickly pee.” We also sang lustily along with Martin Carthy’s darkest ballads, substituting Dingo’s name for all his doomed ladies.
But mostly, dear reader, we ate. We didn’t waste a scrap of any of that food we made for Thanksgiving itself. It fed us in one incarnation or another for four days and nights and two more days, and then on the fifth and sixth nights, we dined with Brendan’s grandmother and aunt and her family, who have a house nearby: bison ribs at the nearby inn, pork tenderloin with mushrooms at their house, rich delicious food we gobbled up as if we were starving, which we patently were not. Our last lunch before we drove away yesterday was chicken soup with parmesan-herb-black pepper crackers I’d made, and that was the end of all that food. I felt a perverse sense of accomplishment, almost as if we’d returned safely from a mountain-climbing expedition, battling high winds and oxygen deprivation, except that, of course, we’d just eaten the mountain instead.
Being sick and tired of eating is a conundrum for people who live to eat. It’s like losing our identity, our direction. We’re rudderless, adrift. Last night we went out for the lightest meal we could envision: a huge fresh simple salad with sesame dressing, and then a bowl of white rice with raw fish and delicately cut-up vegetables. But the sodium content of the tamari was so high, we both slept like crap and felt like we’d drunk a bucket of seawater.
So for the foreseeable future, it’s gonna be nothing but simple, easy, low-stress food around here. This morning, I boiled some Yukon Gold potatoes, which I’ll slice and serve with one poached egg each. Forget lunch entirely. There we go! Late breakfast, early supper, cut out the whole tedious third meal, and voila, a sort-of fast, if you squint hard and think about it.
Tomorrow, oatmeal with wild blueberries, then clear herb-filled broth with vegetables and chicken or fish. The next day, a piece of whole-grain bread with goat cheese, then a lemony, chickeny Greek rice soup. And the next day, maybe a breakfast of a cut-up apple with peanut butter, then after dark, a small mound of wild rice with a vegetable stew with some grated parmesan and pine nuts on top. Not too much wine: a glass, then a cup of peppermint tea.
And a few five-mile runs, lots of Pilates, Dingo’s daily walks on the Eastern Prom…
Maybe some day I’ll be excited about food again, in some dim far-off future. Probably by this weekend.
I love your love affair with food. Just like a love affair with a human, it ebbs and flows in these gorgeous, multi-faceted, combo-emotional ways. I’m lucky all my fiction-writer friends knew who you were before you came to ODU. I of course listened like a good word-and-food-lover and followed suit. Love this, love Blue Plate Special, and after I finish grading freshman papers, I’m gonna love all your fiction. And I’m also going to make a roast chicken with bacon on top. Yessir.
I just wanted to drop by and say that you’re one of my favorite writers, and that Blue Plate Special was one of my favorite reads of 2013. Sometimes I spend my work lunch hours eating thai takeout at my desk and reading old archives on this blog. You always make me feel comforted and refreshed (and hungry). Thanks for writing and hope you continue to do so in this space .
Your food all sounds wonderful, especially the oysters, which we crave here in Florence. We were sick and cancelled the big Thanksgiving dinner with friends that we’d planned at our apartment. Cooked the big bird, spatchcocked, on Saturday, however, and have been living on turkey since. I know what you mean about being fooded-out, though there’s so much good to eat here. Salad sounds wonderful and we’ll get to that very soon. Enjoy your blog as always. Buona sera!
“a sort-of fast, if you squint hard and think about it.” I’ve said it before. I just love your writing. Our lives our so different, but I have a feeling mine will be like yours in a few years after my youngest heads off to college. Life is good.
Damn, I hate typos, especially my own.
Sometimes a smoothie is in order – just sayin’. Small amount of fat free yogurt, a bit of juice, ample greens (kale, spinach), half apple cut up, dash of flax seed oil, half a banana, and a bit of ice.
I’m now regretting not getting the oysters I coveted for Thanksgiving. You may be sick and tired of eating but you’ve resolved the conundrum by planning meals and bites for the next couple of days…Brava!
My horrible solution? Food poisoning! It’s motto should be, “Like fasting, but different.” I’ve never experienced a bigger contrast in my food consumption than this week and the previous. I think I ate three apple slices and a piece of bread on Monday.
Love your writing. Always always like food for the soul. If you want to fast yet have energy to train, fast on fat and cut way down on carbs and eat moderate protein. Sounds extreme, but it’s the new dietary guidelines recently announced by Sweden. Extreme Athlete/Dr. Peter Attia does his training with only fat as his fuel.
Kate, I had the good fortune to read Blue Plate Special before proceeding with remainder of your novels. The insight of understanding what is biographical made the read all the more interesting. What a treat! Where did you find the testosterone for male voices? Perhaps you could make it the topic of a blog posting.
Getting burned out reminds you how alive you are, those who shlep day to day in a perpetual daze don’t get this, and it’s nice to take a break too. I’m a huge foodie and your fan for years now 🙂 This was a great post, rich in soul and meals. Hang in there, temple food is always great.