M.I.Y.O Monday: What Is Lonely Food?

It’s not quite the happy question to herald the return of M.I.Y.O Monday but hey, who doesn’t get mellow, especially on Mondays?

Note: M.I.Y.O. Monday stands for Make It Your Own Monday, a question thrown out to DCF readers every Monday to jumpstart the week with lively interaction. I also welcome questions and suggestions for future MIYO Mondays. Email me.

Circumstance arranges it – though I say “connives” – that I’m alone intermittently for a two week stretch. It shouldn’t pose a problem. I’m a writer by profession and writers generally tend to live solitary lives. My best work is done communing with the keyboard, consorting with cookbooks, and hobnobbing with countless glasses of water (creativity makes me thirsty). I also have no compunction about eating alone. A recent tally reveals (to me) that 90% of my meals are eaten solo, but never in front of my computer; always, I accord respect to every meal, no matter how small or menial.

But as one day turns to two and then four and then more, I start feeling sort of logy. My home office looks out over a cluster of trees and as twilight falls, it gently mantles the leaves in a grayish-blue glow. I witness this every evening and with it, I feel my mood dim, just as surely as day embraces night.

My appetite, which is incessantly turbo-charged, dwindles … to what, I don’t know. It’s unexpected and I lose kilter. Suddenly I subsist on trail mix and chocolate soy milk – because I’ll always love chocolate. In one particularly neurotic stretch, I start counting the hours in almonds: how many more almonds left to eat until company comes back? The trail mix has some coconut chips and nuggets of dried figs too. My teeth crunch down, I taste a surge of sweet, my heart soars.

One night, haunted evermore by what I call the curse of the creative mind – sleeplessness – I make my way to the kitchen. Pulling out a loaf of bread, I take out some extra virgin olive oil, its unfiltered essence stains the little teacup I absentmindedly drizzle it into. From my collection of sea salts, I fish out a container mix of Brittany sea salt and thyme, sprinkling a little of each into the olive oil. My eyes register the slight ripple on the oil’s surface, coarse grey grains immersing into a golden green, pricked by needles of thyme.

I tear off a hunk of bread and bring it to my nose, inhaling deeply. Floury notes, doughy comfort. I dip the bread in oil and bite. The cushiony softness of the dough soaks in the oil like a sponge, assuaging my solitary, sorry state. The oil cuts in with its peppery, fruity astringency; somewhere in back, thyme tells its tale of minty pungency. Perk up, girl! It seems to say.

And so I do. And the next day, company comes back and I’m lonely no more.

Tell me, what is food that you eat when you’re lonely and/or yearning for company?

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