I long to be a foodie, but circumstances prevent my full assimilation (lack of funds, lack of company, and an unwillingness to experiment with new foods).
I am, basically, also a vegetarian, so this limits my adventures.
But I still value the idea of foodies, and love being one vicariously via written words.
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, is a collection of essays edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler.
The concept of this book was to ask food and fiction writers to write about what they cook for themselves when they are alone.
The introduction says,
"We read to feel close to people we don't know, to get into other people's heads. I get the same sensation of intimacy from following a recipe...
Because cooks love the social aspect of food, cooking for one is intrinsically interesting. A good meal is like a present, and it can feel goofy, at best, to give yourself a present. On the other hand, there is something life affirming in taking the trouble to feed yourself well, or even decently."
The essays are sometimes introspective, sometimes funny, but always interesting.
I adore this book.
Ann Patchett writes, "The fact is, I love to feed other people. I love their pleasure, their comfort, their delight in being cared for. Cooking gives me the means to make other people feel better, which in a very simple equation makes me feel better. I believe food can be a profound means of communication, allowing me to express myself in a way that seems at times much deeper and more sincere than words. My Gruyere cheese puffs straight from the oven say I'm glad you're here. Sit down, relax. I'll look after everything...
So what does it say about my self-esteem that I know perfectly well how to make a veloute and yet would choose to crack open a can of SpaghettiOs when dining alone?" (page 17)
Patchett continues, "It is a pleasure to not have to take anyone else's tastes into account or explain why I like to drink my grapefruit juice out of the carton. Eating, after all, is a matter of taste, and taste cannot always be good taste. The very thought of maintaining high standards meal after meal is exhausting. It discounts all the peanut butter that is available in the world." (page 18)
Ben Karlin made a comment about the flavorless stuff Americans have been eating the last few decades.
"In the fall of my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Florence, Italy...there I ate my first real tomato...cut with a Swiss Army knife; juice ran down my arm. I asked (my mom) what the hell those red things were we'd been eating all those years." (page 91, including footnote)
Beverly Lowry talks about the joy in cooking, even for oneself: "Over the years I've settled on a few basic beliefs, one of which is that whatever we do for pleasure, we should try to do, or learn to do, and practice on occasion, in solitude. A kind of test to gauge our skills and see how deep the passion lies and to find out what it is we truly like, to discover--minus other tastes and preferences--what specifically gives us pleasure. We all have our eccentricities. Alone, we indulge." (page 111).
Haruki Murakami made spaghetti as if guests were joining him, but they never came. They were imagined. I love his description. "Every time I sat down to a plate of spaghetti--especially on a rainy afternoon--I had the distinct feeling that somebody was about to knock on the door. The person I imagined was about to visit me was different each time. Sometimes it was a stranger, sometimes someone I knew...
Not one of these people, though, actually ventured into my apartment. They hovered just outside the door, without knocking, like fragments of memory, and then slipped away." (page 130)