“It’s beautiful,” my father said looking down at the pasta bowl in front of him that was moderately filled with what I cooked that evening: An off-the-cuff kalamata olive-caper, diced tomato and basil bucatini dressed in olive oil and butter. I had volunteered to cook something as an addendum to the Italian marinade chicken skewers my father was grilling on the charcoal barbecue in the backyard. It was a pleasant day outside on Independence Day.
How poetically tragic that I am anything but independent, instead having only my parents to chauffeur me around.
How poetically tragic it is that only they can bring me into the outside world, just as they did 27 years ago. I’m repeatedly being conceived; given chances to recover so long as my organs do not give out. And that is poetically beautiful.
On July 4, we did not go anywhere. We stayed at home, which for me is daily. My pent up frustration surfaced and I wailed my dismay at having to spend another day in the four walls of my house. I became nostalgic, grasping at shards of past times when my Independence allowed me to look forward to returning home, to sitting down and watching a long movie with my parents, to spending the summer day outside- bike riding, rollerblading, walking for miles under the sun.
To think I hated having to shave my legs for how much time it took and all those extra minutes spent inside when I could be outside. To think that I loved that I took the time out to care for my legs so that I could walk out in shorts and feel the warmth against my skin. I was conflicted then and suddenly it dawns on me that so much foreshadowed this anorexia diagnosis.
Even the horoscope I was born with, manifested somewhere in the Indian subcontinent, had stated that I would endure this illness at my birth. The key word being “endure.” Endure meaning that I will pull through this. “Pull” meaning that I actively open the door to my life instead of pushing it, exerting energy in resistance from the door’s force vector going against me.
What I would do to have that minor conflict of interest back, of wanting to be outdoors but having to delay the pleasure.
I just purchased a new pair of shorts that were amazingly priced, of great quality fabric and print; it was the last pair of its kind in “my size,” a size 0, to fit this body now, on the off-chance that I’m outside long enough to warrant wearing shorts. Even the size 0 is slightly large, floating around my waist in such a docile manner so that it doesn’t look too bad but it has to be nipped and tucked just so to look any sort of good, meaning, not dressing something resembling a corpse.
There is a new conflict of interest now and it’s point of origin is in the kitchen.
I hate having to constantly mull over what I’m eating- the measuring and weighing of everything from sweet potatoes down to the hundredth of an ounce and the conversion into grams. I am annoyed by the time-sucking careful ladeling out of Tablespoons of nut butter and hummus, to the calorie counting of it all, especially when a ravenous animalistic quality rears its head and I go back into the nut butter jar and the hummus container for a little bit more. I can’t go on without the numbers. I want to escape from them. This is now when during a period of body positivity, new regulations require supermarkets and restaurants to list calories, as if that’s all that matters, whole foods versus processed edibles be damned.
I refuse any meal-support therapy because I don’t want the eating disorder to consume my life anymore than it already does. I count the hours till my next meal, and make sure to pack up my lunch immediately after consuming breakfast should running an errand “outside” - from car to shop - last until way past the 4 to 5-hour interval I try and keep between meals.
I relish my time in the kitchen. I love that I planned my lunch yesterday to a tee:
Pumpkin fig granola mixed into my high protein plain Icelandic yogurt with the dietiatian-mandated fruit. I chose strawberries, heated up, separated from their juice for a not too sweet-and-tart flavor that I then balanced out with a glob of thick salty -molasses-like in consistency - sprouted pumpkin seed butter.
I enjoy digging the spokes of a fork into the garnet flesh of a baked sweet potato balanced by the briny Mahi Mahi burger as my protein source and dollops of warm hummus for a calorie boost.
I don’t enjoy thinking in macros and calories. I don’t enjoy eating when my body is slow to digest.
The truth is, I enjoy cooking, particularly for others. It’s a project, a task, a contribution - something larger than myself, with a deadline, something that is being looked forward to by others. In this scenario, as a culinarian, others are depending on me.
As a culinarian, I am honing my journalistic skill sets while homebound and in recovery.
I don’t just follow recipes, I research the recipe maker, I take care to create ingredients when I can, by hand, and sourced locally. I do more research - I gather second opinions, if you will - for similar recipes. I improv by smell and feel, adding more or less, or something altogether different. I pay attention to whether the top of a baked good has a matte or sheen finish. I look at portion sizes with a tendency to compensate for someone who may have been more active that day and may need more fuel. That is my eating disorder, I suppose a my attention to activity level and food. I photo-document the stages and the end product.
I haven’t written on this platform because I have not been stimulated while homebound. But I have been stimulated by cooking, going so far as to write up a profile of a paleo-cookbook writer for a magazine.
Here is my official launchpad into writing via cooking. Bon appetit.