the lovely moira from who wants seconds? has a contest going on, and the deadline is tonight, 12 midnight PST. the theme: your favourite comfort food. i was specifically called out :-) and i am not one to shirk a challenge, whatever it may be. so, sweet lady, here's my entry--you may regret the casual invitation after you read this, but ahhhh...too late!
i have many issues with food. there are more days i am indifferent to it than i love it, but more days than that that i am a-ok with it and very few days when i downright hate it. i have allergies, i have dislikes, i have predilections, i have preferences. i find new flavours, i find old history, i discover the unknown, i uncover the long forgotten. the one thing i do not do is find comfort in it. when you are hurt or hurting, i do not run to feed you, i run to heal you. when i am hurt or hurting i do not try to ease my pain with a bowl, but often i try to express my pain with a howl. my emptiness cannot be filled with warm soups, hearty porridges, or hefty stews, my inadequacies cannot be diminished by a perfect crust, a delicate crumb, or golden sheen. when i am wracked with worry, guilt, or sadness i eat for physical nourishment, but i taste copper, blood, or nothing. i will burn my tongue and not care. i will shovel down cold glue-ish food and move on.
perhaps, though, perhaps....i remember the homeless man who came up to me in the farmer's market. there were security guards coming from either side to usher him away from the naive young girls and hapless tourists. he came up quietly but determined, and he asked, soft-spokenly, "all i ask for is enough for a meal." how could i refuse? the security guards retreated, respectfully, and i got up and offered not money, but to buy him lunch. the closest kiosk was the old-fashioned mexican joint. normally, i would never eat there, as the food was looked greasy, sitting heavy in the steam pans all day, covered with pinkish grey refried beans, orange cheese, and pale, barely green iceberg lettuce. i was in california where i could get the "real" thing, why would i choose this "amex" throwback? and the burly men with the loud laughs and louder insults were intimidating. but there it was. what would you like? i asked politely. uncomfortably. he was uncomfortable, too. he shrugged, i suppose, unused to choices at this time. the older, usually garroulous man behind the counter was quiet but took charge. he gave him a plate with an enchilada, a burrito. a salad. some chips. i could swear there was more food there than he would normally give. some extra meat. extra cheese. and did he slip in something more in that brown paper bag? i will never know, but the sack was definitely heavier than i think it should be. i handed him the cash, and he nodded as i took the bag. i nodded back, and handed the man his lunch. he took the bag. i extended my hand again. we looked each other in the eye and i said "good luck". the security guards appeared at his side, and i would like to think that he was at least afforded the opportunity to eat his meal in comfort.
of course, i never saw him again. of course, i never got the same opportunity again. it breaks my heart to see those less fortunate, and to see those so fortunate that they can waste so much food that can go to those that need it. i am guilty of not appreciating what i have or what i can do. i have wasted as much as i have saved. i've given money and food to food banks and homeless shelters, i've bought meals for the homeless and the hungry, but i've also withheld pennies or denied an upturned hand. i've never felt the same as at that moment. at that moment, i was as equal as everyone around me. and the food was as grand as it ever was going to get. my levels of respect for everyone went up, my levels of respect for the lowliest of food did too. i do not thumb my nose at "fast" inadequate or ill-advised food. i will eat anywhere. i will eat with anyone. i will eat anything.
the mexican joint is gone. the men are gone. but perhaps the moment of comfort remains.
Posted by santos. This entry was posted on 20050323 at 1:03 AM You can skip to the end and leave a response.