Posted on July 17th, 2013
In the beginning, you drank milk. It came from your mother or maybe from a powder. You drank it and you burped and you spit it up. You learned to breathe and eat at the same time, and your parents were overwhelmed with love. There was love, and you drank it.
In time, you learned to eat soft, bland things, and you developed tastes. You liked sweet potatoes and bananas. You reached for things your parents ate, and you tried to put food into your mouth with your own hands, which sometimes worked.
For the next long while, things progressed in a rather straight-forward way. You started eating like a full-grown human, small bites and then large ones,and the vast majority of the time the food made it successfully into your mouth. You went through phases, of white foods and fish sticks and things called chicken nuggets, food on paper microwaveable trays, and pints of blueberries in the summer. Your parents were patient. You loved potato chips dipped in ketchup. But you grew nonetheless, and soon you ate most things.
Somewhere in your late adolescence, you decided you didn’t want to eat animals anymore. There were many reasons you stated, and most seemed reasonable to you at different times. Your parents said that maybe it was time you started learning to cook for yourself. That was when you learned to make macaroni and cheese out of a box, and to microwave things called chick’n burgers. There were not many vegetables, in their full forms in any case, but that was okay.
In college, you ate. You ate salads and tofu in the dining hall, and greasy Thai food in the middle of the night, and endless cups of vanilla soft serve. You ate nachos and brownies and milkshakes. You never cooked. Sometimes, a forbidden bite of pepperoni pizza or a hunk of someone else’s burrito, full of beans most definitely made with lard, would pass between your lips. You didn’t really think about it, until you did, and then there were sausages and chicken soup and a feast of everything else you’d avoided for almost a decade.
After college, you were responsible for feeding yourself, along with many, many other things. You paid bills, you got a job, you cooked with things from plastic pouches. One year you got a cookbook for Christmas, and you baked a loaf of bread. It was dense, and flat, and entirely too chewy, but you made it, and it was yours.
There were more loaves of bread, and endless dinner parties of dusk and wine and pasta and chocolate. There were groggy weekends of bourbon and eggs, and sun-filled afternoons of gin and chicken salad. There were friends and you were happy, mostly. At least that’s how it seems now, looking back. There was less from plastic, and more from baskets.
You grew older, and there was responsibility and ambition and confusion. Things were made, things fell apart, and things were rescued. There was hunger, and you provided for yourself. There was sadness, and you filled empty spaces. There was celebration, and you poured your happiness into bowls and glasses. There was love, and you shared it on plates.
This is a history, until now at least, of you and how you ate. It creeps along, like a growing vine, and there will be more to tell.