I have an overzealous, conciliatory attachment to food, like my life depends upon it. And I know it does, but there is only so much one person can eat in any one sitting.
It happens often that I find myself catering for the masses, versus feeding my family of three, usually, two because I have recently switched to a pescatarian diet.
This obsessive compulsion is one that at times creates waste, stress and unnecessary expense. One would think that less is more, cherishing that delicious meals can be made with a few ingredients, but for the fact that I grew up in a family of eight where lunches and dinners were massive events. I’ve not quite recovered from large-scale meals.
I was preparing my 15 year old son’s menu for a three day hiking trip, organised in quantities of two lunches, two dinners and two breakfasts.
My son is not in favour of sandwiches and has been the victim of lunch theft from ‘friends’ at school, possibly the culprit of a ‘nice lunch’ and always having plenty. He prefers bite-sized portions of crunchy cucumbers, carrots, pink lady apples; also bocconcini, sliced avocados, dried apricots, apples and sultanas, 10 rice crackers of a particular brand, with Nonna’s salami and crusty white bread.
Our cupboards are well stocked with neat containers that fit into his modest rectangular lunch box replacing the original, broken in a hangry frenzy, warding off the school yard vultures, announcing that ‘I’ve had enough!’ Not referring to the food in the box, but enough of the pecking lunch order, of which some students had none.
As any experienced hiker would know, food needs to be well portioned and considered. Given that my son was fleeing the nest for a few days, consider food as the mother’s final attachment. As a new mum I succumbed to left breastfeeding mastitis and alas relinquished this task to formula, sterilising units and an investment in an expensive electric kettle.
Psychologically the obsessive trauma of food attachment with the need to be secure in overcompensated nurture for the inadequacies of the illegitimate order of ‘shit happens’. There lies this tension. What may seem so simple as opening your mouth to eat, ingesting with joy de vi, became convoluted with a starved need to provide.
I organised the two lunches, breakfasts and dinners into containers and zip lock bags. In what way might I minimise plastic? Here’s an invention waiting to capitalise on the zero waste movement. I prepared a zip lock bag for each snack, which eventually turned into a mountain of what looked like unappetising plastic food, easily accessible and ready to pack, only it was difficult to stop at two portions of each meal and also fit into one pack! The anxiety was rife!
And one might question why he did not organise the food himself as the learning task at hand? I think it had to do with how many times I have to remind him that dinner’s on the table.
I have known the frugal nature of food scarcity and wanted more. Now that I have plenty, less is sought to tame the bulge and improve longevity. Yet, when it comes to feeding others I have inhabited this pedantic notion of invention. I read a recipe book like a novel. Then create dish after dish, visually recalling colours, ingredients and ideas.
I struggle to follow a recipe. I prefer to look at the pictures imagining the steps. To cook is to recreate a body of knowledge, written in the practice itself, the methodology of what was taught, and modelled; took place in an exchange.
I still appreciate the need for a recipe, though intuition is the ingredient that interests me the most. In what way then do we foster intuition? With intuition the practice is innate, the recipes, the creations, our lives then become inventions and intentions of what we already know.