It’s very difficult for me to write about food — so many trips and so much worry, joy, and compulsion. My first impulse is to go into a Yiddish tragic-comedy about the whole thing, but not now. My second impulse is to go into a long talk about all the changes in my own feelings and habits surrounding food, but that doesn’t seem right either.
Susan says she is not a religious person, but she has a high regard for religion, and she doesn’t like to see it downgraded or made fun of. And Saul Alinsky, a Chicago “social activist” said that “Seeing is Believing” should be taken a lot more literally.
The only thing that’s written about more than food is love. What we eat has the potential to nourish or destroy, to cheer or depress, to excite or to bore, and the way a person cooks is as distinctive as the way he or she writes, sings, dances, paints.
I read, in the newspaper, about a man who is dragged from his car, knifed repeatedly for the few dollars in his wallet, and left bleeding in the gutter. My mother says her friends don’t go out at night. It’s an old story, old as the city’s tired and dour expression, old as the dry and wrinkled hands of a man trying to remember better days and remembering nothing but bone.
Thinking about food gets me thinking of consumption in general. How much is enough? Consumption without creation is depressing. People ain’t trees, and the food energy they take in ain’t meant to feed a sedentary entity. But the pressures sure are great, of satanic proportions, even, to consume, consume, consume. I’m all right as long as I think of that which I consume as a tool, a fertilizer, a catalyst. The higher the quality of my consumption, the more rapid my ascent to KRSNA’s side.
American cheese on white bread. Dry and joyless. Wholly unsatisfying yet, as a bus station refreshment, wholly appropriate. The bread is without flavor or soul, edible foam rubber, hardly the staff of life. The cheese is mostly chemical. But we are far from the farm.
I’ve fasted only once. I was with the Minnesota Outward Bound School in Canada and for the three weeks prior to my solo my brigade of ten girls had canoed and portaged from 5 A.M. to 9 P.M. daily — eating an unlimited amount of oatmeal for breakfast, sharing an occasional loaf of doughy bread for lunch, with two bowls of rice apiece for supper. We were always a bit hungry, but the beauty around us filled our souls and generally took our minds off our bellies.
Yom Kippur. The Jewish Day of Atonement. Along with my family, I used to fast, on this holy day, to expiate my sins, to assure that God would mercifully grant me yet one more year, during which, along with my family, I might sit every night before the TV, eating enough fruit and cookies to feed the whole block.
News item: North Carolina is listed as one of the states where the food stamp program is underused. Social workers say they can’t seem to interest eligible families to come in and sign up.
They had a small frame house with ceilings a little higher than six feet, several outbuildings, and some rich, tillable acres of earth. They had bought the farm and the farm life — a life of working all day. For them, it was a small price to pay, such is their love for the land and the life they lead.