Cheryl Juech - This lovely badge of bravery and tulips were left on my doorsteps. Coming from such a brave woman...humbled...grateful...and I look at it everyday.
|Sophia Dentice...this gem along with the book by the same name arrived in Phoenix this winter. The book has fabulous music lists, an amazing story of perseverance and an unexpected story about the brother's amazing sister.
I use to be the person you loved to have at a dinner party...because I hated to cook and loved to eat. I use to keep a revolving list in my head of my top 5 favorite meals. The thing about the favorite meals most often as food does it's attached to the moment; hence the comfort is a combination of the people and the food. So you need the two parts to get comfort food...the food and the people. I could rattle off probably 50 favorite meals/dishes from homes or restaurants but a quick top 5 is no brainer...
1. Post France Thanksgiving Dinner. I had returned from a winter break abroad in Nice, France. The couple I stayed with, let's just saying cooking was not their forte. The French pun was unintentional...anyways long story short I had to have "dinner" with them and they lived a bit far off the bus line to go dinner by myself and walk home and their dinners were pretty typical first year of college living on your own type meals. Which was kind of okay...except for the restrictions that most people's refrigerators in France are about the size of a dorm refrigerator, so I really couldn't buy my own food - besides we weren't suppose too...and I was a rule follower. I didn't want to offend them by bringing my own food, and I was already clearly offending the one woman by even living with them and taking their bedroom. I can't believe I can't remember their names...and in the era before email and facebook after I left we never had contact again. So when I got back home to Wisconsin my friend Sandra prepared my favorite an entire Thanksgiving dinner. Though I loved being in France, and perhaps under different living arrangements and bit older may have decided to stay awhile, as I whilst to go back now. That meal was home...home in everything beautiful and wonderful being home means...
2. Chithra and Neil's Indian Brunch. I am not an exotic eater, never been a fan of spicy or unusual foods. Give me the down to earth basics. The last place I lived before moving to Phoenix was this fabulous apartment that leaned to one side that had two entrance doors and my walk in closet in the living room. I believe I owned maybe two pans, they were orange and heavy that my mom had bought me at TJ Maxx. I don't think I ever used those pans. I did not own a coffee pot. It was very "Carrie" pre Sex In The City minus $425 dollar shoes. My neighbor across the hall was a student at the medical college and sometime into his 4th year his girlfriend, to become fiance to become married and then divorced....moved in across the hall. I add the extra tidbits because they were from Phoenix and full circle when I first moved there for school they took my parents and I out to dinner....and then about a year later I ran into him with a very blond not his former wife on his side at the mall for a very uncomfortable ohhhh so a lot has happened in a year awkward moment. Again, I digress...again the food leads to story. So when his girlfriend arrived she was an amazing cook, and we didn't have air conditioning except one window unit so when she cooked she would open the second door of the apartment that entered the kitchen and I would open mine and chit chat with her while she was whipping up some amazing smelling food. I would sit on my stool with my pristine kitchen as she explained that curry was not in fact a spice from a jar but a combination of spices. She even had this fancy spice wheel...she tried to with no luck to teach me...again I was a consumer of other's creations and had little to no interest in the joys of cooking. So I had been invited to a brunch party they had and don't have a clue of what I ate, just know it has forever stayed in the top 5.
|Art by Taylor Rose (age 4)
3, 4 and 5....Yep I can wrap them all together in a big pretty bow....because they were cooked by the same fabulous friend. Leah's BLT. Yes that simple...the perfect BLT...ironically at the time I was allergic to eggs. And we were all at a friend's "lake house" think more Nancy Meyer's movie lake house...and anyways Leah was making everyone omelet's. As I finally unraveled myself from the Heavenly Bed way before the Westin had that motto Leah made me the perfect BLT....she went on then at the same location to make the perfect Brisket for New Year's and then at her now husband's house a year or 2 later a standing rib roast that melted in your mouth, and caviar mashed potatoes...for all you foodies out there I could go into better details but trust me...they were the perfect fancy comfort meals one could desire surrounded by amazing friends, good wine and laughter...lots and lots of laughter.
Re-telling this feels like I am 90 and reminiscing of a past life so far away that you need to give someone witness to my life. When I re-tell these stories and I can feel how at ease my life was... it wasn't without nervous energy, a bit of drama, but it was fluid and living....and it is perhaps the worst part of this disease for me living without comfort food as I remember it. The list of foods that I can not eat is so long it is easier to list what I can. I eat these foods over and over and every time I try to branch out I seem to get punished. Punished is not take a benadryl and everything settles like a stirred up pond with the chaos slowly descending to a beachy bottom. It is benadryl, inhalers, face rash...there are not one but many days of being more uncomfortable than I normally am...and thus I just can't go there anymore.
I try not to curse food, because I know there are people that are begging for it, that have no access to it, but there are many a days I feel humbly in their presence. I have all this food around me that brings me discomfort and sadness. The food started slowly...at first I just felt a little itchy / uncomfortable after eating....it started when we were living in Napa. My X (who is a very good cook) in fact anyone I've ever dated knew how to cook...it must have been an instinctual survival guide....some woman find a pull to a partner on a primal level to produce children for our world...yeah I skipped that and made sure they could feed me! Then it got odd, I kept thinking I was having panic attacks mostly at restaurants...I would get hot, and sweaty and short of breathe..and real edgy...well when you don't know you are allergic to celery salt and most restaurants use it to season it problem arises.
The biggest difficulty about being allergic to so many foods is that is a go to for people to care for you...bring a dish. It is a mutual exchange of giving and receiving that makes everyone feel good...comforted. This is just not possible anymore. One of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten was when my mom had shingles and the Women's Club in Elm Grove put us on their dinner rotation. Those meals saved my father and I...and wow how there are a lot of amazing cooks in Elm Grove. What I wouldn't give to be the elegant sick person that someone brings chicken soup and they join me as I lament how nourishing to the self and soul their hard work has gifted me.
As I can tell from this very short idea becoming a very long post I could write a book just on the food and the missing of it. I block it out now, finding it's just too much to add to my proverbial plate.