The word itself brings to mind whatever it is that you'd love to put in your mouth right now- ice cream, a medium rare steak, a lovely tossed salad, etc. In this day and age, we are so very concerned about the chemical composition of food- I can't tell you how many women say something along the lines of "oh, don't eat that, it's full of carbs"- that it seems we've forgotten that food should be not only a tool of bodily survival but also an enjoyable experience to savor. Why perform a necessary action, such as eating food, without enjoyment of it when there is every possibility that one can get a satisfaction beyond a full belly?
Truly, food can create such a passionate experience of so many kinds. I fondly remember the sense of camraderie that food created in college. We were all broke, of course, and none could possibly afford to have a well balanced meal on most days. So, we did potlucks. We picked someone's house or apartment, and everyone of us brought a plate of some kind of food, and together we had plenty. Two of the friends that participated were Jordanian, and they always delighted us with some dish of their native county, a few were vegan, and so we all got to try that, and so on. But there was more beyond the tasting of something different- there was something magical about sitting on the floor with a plate of food you've never tried with people that you loved to be around. There was a general feeling that we could accomplish anything together. And, it was all because we all needed food.
There is also something thrilling about dumpster diving for food. I know it sounds disgusting, but there were a few restaurants that knew there were very hungry people that showed up for the dig after all the cooks had gone home, and they accomodated us by putting all the edible things in bags on the top of the regular garbage. Nevertheless, it was technically a crime to dive this food, and so there was the thrill of having a lookout for cops. One night in particular, the local coffee shop put over a hundred bagels in a bag and left them for us. We felt like we'd struck gold. We took them home and put them in a freezer. We had bagels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for about a week.
Last night, I had a completely new food experience. I was sitting down to eat with my significant other, who doesn't particularly care for vegetables and thus drinks V8. I asked 'why not just eat the damn vegetables? They taste so much better.'
To which Other replied "I'd rather have the V8. It tastes a lot like celery."
I'm sure I scrunched my nose when I replied: "Not really. It's like drinking ketchup to me."
Other: "You don't like tomatoes, either, do you? I don't ever see you eat them."
"No, I like tomatoes, but I'm picky about them." I thought for a moment so that I could better explain why and how I'm picky about them. "I'm as picky about tomatoes as I am about people. I like tomatoes like I like women: I like them smaller, and with a tender skin. When I bite into a tomato, I want it to spit all those lovely tomatoey juices at me, just like I like feisty women." I said this thoughtfully, remembering some of the greatest women in my life, like my mother, who doesn't take shit from anybody despite the fact that she may be the most compact person on Earth that isn't considered to be a 'little person'. Then I added: "I also like them green and fried."
Significant Other just stared at me for a moment before saying: "You know, it really kinda scares me when you compare people to food. You like tomatoes like you like women....really?" And The Eyebrow went up.
I'm sure one day, after spring has come around and I've planted another garden, and the tomatoes bloom and then start producing little bitty fruit, I will remember this conversation. And I will imagine my mother, my best girlfriend, and a host of others when I go out, pick the nicest, juiciest, most beautiful one, and savor it, even as it runs down my chin. Because these women, like food, give and sustain my life. And as of this afternoon, I can't think of a higher compliment than being compared to a tomato.