On Sunday morning I woke up with a craving. It attacked all senses and kicked me out of a pile of cozy blankets, bright and early (and on my day off!). There was a favourite food that absolutely needed to be eaten, and the thought of it danced in my memory as I hastily changed and ran out of the house, anxiously waiting for the bus to hurry up and take me to relief. It was so intense that I’m actually not sure whether or not I would have turned back if a shoe had fallen off. This is what vampires must feel like, but less…lame.
This trip required heading into an area of town that I avoid like Cheez Wiz. After 15 excruciating minutes, I finally arrived at the sacred destination. It was somewhere familiar that I hadn’t been to in what felt like a very long time, and even though everything was exactly the same, it was strange, like the time I visited my elementary school and was suddenly too tall for everything and didn’t find the wide, echo-ing halls to be intimidating.
After ordering, I sat down and smelled the food when it arrived. In between bites, I paused to close my eyes and think, enjoy the taste, recall the smell, and feel the texture. It wasn’t as good as I remembered, which was a little sad. I looked around me. The place was large, and it was empty because it was 9 in the bloody AM, but the place felt sterile, as if the magic had disappeared and my rose-coloured glasses had disappeared.
I stopped eating and thought for a few minutes about my best food memories, and they all were with other people. The quiet satisfaction of finally tasting the hospital-fiasco/cake-fail bread pudding, the glowing warmth of smiling lovingly at someone from across the table while twirling pasta around a fork, the whimsical novelty of eating pink cotton candy on a merry-go-round at night with friends…
If I were to eat three meals a day, that means I’ve had at least 27, 375 meals, not including leap years and snacks. Or desserts!! In all of the earlier cases and many more, yes, the food was frickin’ delicious, but it was always the company and atmosphere that gave them the extra shot in the arm to earn a special place in the ol’ memory bank. I honestly think that love makes food taste better. Unless your sweetpea is a terrible cook.
Culinary students, cooks and chefs get the opportunity to taste some amazing foods, but it doesn’t always come with the time to savour them. It’s the nature of the beast and we brazenly walk into kitchens, fully aware of that, from the very first time we tie our aprons.
Hustling through a meal is not how I prefer to eat, and ironically, I decided to start my career in food so that I could one day teach people how to slow down, cook, and enjoy learning about their meals, but it’s a very small price to pay for what is being gained at the restaurant. The menu is wickedly diverse, the ingredients are fantastic, I am learning so much, and haven’t been yelled at even when things get mucked up. The people at the restaurant pay me, teach me, feed me, and make me laugh. Can a person really ask for more?
After a while of salivating over Jamie’s Italy, my advice to you this week is to think Italian! Cherish your company, food, and time whenever you have them. There are so many people who have one or none of these, or have zero delicious memories to smile about, so I’m very grateful…and wondering what my next crazy food pang will be!