The Beginning of Food (Jan. 4, 2007)

I have a folder on my desktop called “MySpace Blogs to Finish.” I have a few food blogs I’d like to get done over the weekend, and was looking in the folder tonight to see what I had already started. I found this. I don’t know why it was in there . . . even though this is more storyboarding than story, it looks like it’s pretty finished to me.

The Beginning of Food
Written Jan. 4, 2007

It’s 3 a.m. on the third-to-last day of the third week I’ve lived here in New York. I have $30. Literally $30 in my bank account. And I’m still not living by the Rule of Thirds. I’ve always wondered about those people that say (years later, and from the comfort of a multimillion dollar mansion) “Yeah, back in the beginning I moved to [L.A., NYC, London, Belize] with nothing but a suitcase and $10.” I tried to move here with as few belongings as I could. Really, I did. But my fucking kitchen was coming with me, even though I had to leave the rest of the apartment and everything else I knew behind.

That’s when it came into focus – how much I want to do this food writing thing. I was hit with the force of it when I cleared out mentally, just a couple days before I packed up my bags and left. With the stress of my former job behind me, and having secured an apartment and a moving truck, all I had left to consider was what I really wanted to do with my life. Writing’s a no-brainer. I write like some people smoke or do drugs: it’s messy and wears me out, but it’s an addiction. It’s gotta be done or I don’t feel good. But what did I really, really, really want to write about? Sex? Well, I love sex. I just can’t write about it – about the specifics of who it’s with or why I’m doing it with him or her. Those things are just for me, and I’d hate for my Grampa or kids to come across that stuff someday. I write about my family a lot. And that’s all well and good. But I already know that story. I lived it. I want new stories. New words give my addiction legs to walk on. I fall down without the story.

So, what, then? Love? No – love is wrapped up in sex and family – the best parts of which I keep to myself instead of spilling on the page. The next closest thing to my heart is what I realized and felt as I was packing up the egg poacher that I only used once to make my ex-fiance Eggs Benedict. I bought the pan because it was his favorite breakfast. More important than a ring from Tiffany’s, it was an emotional commitment to wake with him each sunny weekend and cook for him with his wants and needs in mind. That all went away, but the pan was still in my hands. I’m thinking of putting it on Craigslist. I hate to have detricious of negative relationships lying around. But I like Eggs Benedict.

And that stupid turkey roaster. I bought it because it was going to be the first time I made a turkey (again, for the ex) and he had asked me to get the biggest turkey I could find. I was going all-out, and needed a proper turkey roaster with a rack. He never showed up for that huge Thanksgiving dinner because we broke up. I cooked the turkey anyway. And roasted root vegetables. And mashed potatoes made of clouds from heaven. And a pumpkin caramel cheesecake. But that 21-lb. turkey! It was delicious.

And here I am. It’s now 3:30 a.m. and I still have no more than $30 in my account and I’m wondering, just a little bit, if a few years from now . . . I’ll be sitting with a devilish, sexy young reporter for the food section of Slate.com, answering questions about how my food blog project took off from this little unknown site to this huge, interactive, joyous thing. She and I will be sitting in my outlandishly kitted-out kitchen, with the Viking-Wolf stove, Sub Zero fridges, movable islands and tons of open cabinetry. I can see it. I’ll make her lunch, we’ll have cocktails, the kids will come home from school and then my wildly amazing husband will join us right before I excuse myself from the interview because it’s dinnertime, and dinnertime is an event at my house, don’t you know? And she’ll be a little crestfallen, because lunch was so good and she’d die to see what’s for dinner. I tell her to check out the next book I’m working on. The story of meals cooked for people I love – those are surely the greatest stories of my life.

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