The sign on the fridge at my inlaws’ vacation home is hand printed in colored pencil, each letter a different shade. The yellowed paper looks like it came from a child’s loose-leaf notebook. Despite the appearance the message isn’t quite what you’d expect a child to be sharing.
“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” ~ Twiggy
I can never pass that sign without thinking of at least three things that do in fact taste better than thin feels, and no, not a single one is made from chocolate.
Until recently, the sign just made me chuckle. Now that my girls are old enough to be sounding out words and deriving meaning from what they read, the sign is giving me pause.
Food for me is so much more than sustenance. It’s comfort, it’s love, and it so often symbolizes time with friends, with family.
My mother cooked us hot meals every night. She’s a magician in the kitchen and, other than how delicious everything always was, what I remember above all was how much she enjoyed cooking those meals.
She’d pour over cookbooks and cooking magazines mumbling to herself as she came up with ideas. Then she’d cook. A dash of this, a splash of that, a quick stir with a wooden spoon, and presto, a hot family meal. (Presumably my mother still does this daily. I’m just not there to witness it.)
Now, I’m not saying that all that kitchen magic guaranteed that we’d have a 50’s TV sitcom inspired family dinner. We had our share of squabbles, tantrums, silent dinners. But the food was always good and I could taste the love in it.
(My sister fuels her cooking much the same way which is why I so love going to her house.)
There are so many ways to take ingredients and spin them into heavenly concoctions. So many ways to create flavors that make your mouth sing and your eyes light up with delight. Being thin, buying small clothes, turning heads never made me feel that way.
Last week I read an article in Self Magazine about a woman who lost her sense of taste after taking an antifungal medication. As she tried more and more foods that either tasted like paste or cardboard depending on their consistency, she slowly lost the will to live. Dinner with her family became a chore. Meals out with friends were downright painful. You see, she could smell everything, she just couldn’t taste any of it.
Her sense of taste came back after many long months and with it an appreciation for what food meant to her, an appreciation she had never felt before.
There’s a reason taste is one of the five senses. Without it the picture isn’t complete. We need to eat to subsist, but to really live we need to be aware of what it is we are eating. It lends color to our lives.
I don’t want my girls growing up thinking that some societal ideal on what women should resemble will ever be more satisfying and fulfilling than a great meal prepared with love and care. And for the record, both my mother and sister are thin women, both living proof that you can be passionate about food and still take care of your health. But still, there are much better things to worry about.
I’m putting different messages on our fridge. Things that I hope will give the girls food for thought as they reach in to get the ingredients they need to create food for their souls.