April 20, 2006


I eat very differently when I'm alone for dinner than when Jacob's home. I never really noticed that my eating habits changed when I moved in with him, but now I notice when I go back to my default. See, Jacob thinks in terms of meals. What should we have for dinner? Lasagna, a stir-fry, veggie burgers, chili and salad. It's always very civilized and integrated. When he's at lab late, though, he comes home and asks me what I had for dinner, and I answer something like, "Well, I had some toast. And some carrots. And then an unchicken patty. And then some yogurt." You should see the looks he gives me.

It's not so much that I'm incapable of feeding myself properly (though that's also true sometimes), it's just that my approach is to seize upon particular food items as they seem to fit my eating needs. This is the paradox which prevents me from enjoying cooking much: if I'm thinking about eating, it's usually because I've used up my last meal and have no energy for making the next one. But a handful of something right now will perk me right up, and while I'm eating it I'll think of this other thing which I feel I could use some of, and I'll graze my way around the house until I'm sufficiently fed. I'm often not that picky about the form my dinner ingredients take; I can speak with perfect sincerity about appreciating the interesting flavor of raw tomatoes or plain tofu, so it seems perfectly fine to me to just eat them as they are. And if I'm thinking to myself that I haven't had enough vitamin C lately, or enough protein, hadn't I just better stick some in my mouth right now before something terrible happens?

It's an approach that would give most diet specialists heart palpitations; when I'm left to my own devices there are no measured portions and no nutritional checklists possible. There's no gauge of appropriate consumption except my instinctive feeling of what I should have, but hell, I like that gauge. Besides, it makes my life vastly easier by obviating the need for planning my grocery shopping coherently; I can eat whatever strange or boring things I happened to buy as long as I don't have to figure out how to use them in a meal. At one point when I wasn't feeling too creative in my purchasing, I conducted a weeks-long experiment in how to use green peppers and onions. This led to pepper and onion sandwiches, pasta with peppers and onions, pepper-and-onion seitan, peppers and onions wrapped in pie crust, and eventually the invention of the Apricot Jelly Marinade for peppers and onions (about which I don't remember much except that it was delicious).

All of this is a very elaborate way to justify the fact that my dinner tonight has thus far consisted of a large portion of hummus and pita, and a basket of tasty cherry tomatoes. The veggie sausages in the fridge are probably a good place to go next, but let's not sell frozen corn short here. In another ten minutes I'll probably decide to combine the two, and then look out world.

Posted by dianna at April 20, 2006 10:27 PM

Have you ever tried a peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwich? It tastes like a fruit smoothie in solid form.

I tend to periodically summon the wherewithal to make a large amount of some meal, then live exclusively off the leftovers from that meal until it's gone, then make another big meal. So for the foreseeable future I'll be eating leftover cabbage soup.

Posted by: Zach S. at April 20, 2006 10:39 PM

a very merry unchicken to me.
to who?
a very merry unchicken to me!
to you!

Posted by: Erik at April 20, 2006 11:07 PM