This is the word running through my head all day today.
I try so hard to make meal time fun for Audrey and I- the special family time I always wanted it to be when I dreamed of a family of four or five at a large wooden farmhouse table and mismatched chairs. This, I see now, was just that- a dream.
We don our matching aprons this morning and she picks out a french toast recipe from her cookbook. I make fresh-squeezed orange juice and leave two slices to decorate our plates. We both have a glass of milk as well. There are little pumpkins and fall leaves on the center of the table. Real maple syrup and powdered sugar. All appears as it should be.
It’s the same with lunch when I make a chickpea soup from a recipe in a good friend’s handwriting – a recipe we once sat making together in her Brooklyn kitchen in my other life. We eat it with toasted bread, honey crisp apple slices, and grape juice. It’s my favorite meal of the day because I put extra lemon juice in mine and the grape juice reminds me of the ice pops my mom made from it when I was a child.
Dinner is the worst. The sun is already down and our kitchen feels dim. I make whole wheat couscous and salmon. I am too lazy to chop the broccoli that goes with it. I always manage to dry out my fish. One thing I never do anymore is force myself (or Audrey for that matter) to eat anything that didn’t turn out well or I just don’t feel like eating. I toss most of the salmon.
My taste for sweets- is still gone. I don’t know if it’s depression or another of your traits I’m taking on since you didn’t care much for sweets. I start to think my craving for drinks rather than food isn’t just about some symbolic, unquenchable thirst as it is about taste. I usually drink mostly water…now I crave juice, iced tea, coffee…anything with flavor.
It will be sixteen months tomorrow, but I think I can count on one hand the number of meals that I actually “tasted” and enjoyed. And I’m pretty sure when I think of each of them, they were eaten with others. I miss tasting food. It feels an almost grotesque thing to keep making things and putting them in my mouth but not tasting them. It helps that there is a little girl waving her fork around like a fairy wand and saying, “You’re a good cook mommy” while she eats every last bite.
I don’t need to be happy. I wrote someone the other day in an email – that happiness is not that profound of an emotion and not the one I’m aiming for. What I do hope for though, is that life will not always be this insipid. It doesn’t seem in my power or will to simply bring back the flavor. But I will do my part. I will keep making meals. I will keep serving them. And before we start, I will take Audrey’s hand and bow my head and be thankful for this food.