Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lily Eats

"Drink!" he cried out. "Drink, eat!" And he roared with joy.*

To live with seven people after living alone--You must remember how people eat together, that people eat together. Maybe it's this instinct that's been driving me to cook pot after pot of soup on the hottest days. Soup feeds people. Lentils monastery style--with carrots, diced tomatoes and onions, a splash of cheap red wine which Sal, Amanda and I drank the remainder of. Amanda emptied out her "food bag," and we ate a plate of hors d'oeuvre: cheese, tomatoes, green grapes, apple slices. The soup was eaten as people filtered in, in spite of the heat. Then vegetable soup in cumin-seasoned stock. Chili with cinnamon and coriander in addition to all the usual spices, chili that in spite of its ornate bite, takes only a half an hour to make, from start to finish. Egg-drop soup in "no-chicken" stock which Dave swore was standard-issue Campbell's--kale, pink beans, parmesan.

I keep trying to offer food to Adam but I've yet to make anything that doesn't have beans in it, which he says he just can't eat. Onions, too. He said, It's terrible, they're things that everyone cooks with, peels clementines, Brent nodded along and said, I know what you mean, that's how I feel about fruit. I squinted, looking for some food I don't like and the only thing I could come up with is raw onions. It's not just the taste, which reminds me of a body growing sickly in the sun. They give me a headache when I eat them, and no one believed me except (I think it was) Chelsea, who said, Certain foods do that to me. Milk, does.

Val brought her canvas bags of produce and we went to Justin's house and cooked bean soup with kale in home-jarred chicken stock. She let a ham hock fall off the bone in the center of it, I added a lot of oregano. We listened to the A-side of a Fats Domino record and were both too afraid we'd break Justin's fancy turntable if we tried to flip the record. So we waited for him to do it and the soup was delicious and it was too hot for any of us to eat so we drank gin instead.

Breakfast as always with Dave. In six or seven years of dating-cum-friendship, walks in the park, fine dining in our cheap clothes, free drinks, free rides, and now being roommates, we have always eaten breakfast. I've caught his obsession with eggs in the morning, though "morning" is a term that means something different to the two of us. Eggs, though, are a way of reclaiming power, I want to feel like I woke up running. Things have been good but hard; I want a lot of energy reserves and then I want to use them all. "Every time I've ever been really heartbroken," I told Val, "I've started running. It's happened three times." I remember Noah saying something about tiring oneself out as a method of self-preservation. Your weary body keeps your head intact.

As soon as the first cold night of any year nestles itself between two hot days, I get sick. This time, I eat pad thai and drink coconut-tofu soup, fishing out huge chunks of broccoli with my fingers. My father insists that I cannot eat at home, he wants to buy me dinner since I just started classes today. I joke that it's my tenth year of college, and he says, "That doesn't matter," and can't help but tell the man at the Thai carry-out that it's his daughter's first day of school. We sit in the park by the Washington Monument and I think about how Donna's restaurant burned down and once I got hot chocolate there and watched them light the monument at Christmas and I tell my father that it's everyone's responsibility, their own heartbreak. "To hell with that," he says. "I'll break his legs." We walk back slowly, he gives me half a bottle of wine, I go home and don't drink it but instead make twig tea and fall asleep while it's still mostly too hot to drink. I reheat it on the stove at three AM and Dave walks into the kitchen, offers me some whiskey in much the same way my father offered to break a man's legs. I remember reading Stacie's "Cures for Love," and think, cures for a cold are not so different. Think, everyone has their remedies, everyone is fixed somehow, thank god for cold nights and for colds. They give people a chance to care for each other, pause, say, I really hope you aren't getting sick, would you like some, get some sleep.

*from M.F.K. Fisher's Serve it Forth.

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