Sunday, December 13, 2009


Some time ago, I resolved that I must have been food deprived--starved--in another lifetime. All signs seem to point to that anyway. I stockpile food. I buy--you name it: mayonnaise, maple syrup, milk not when they run out, but when they run low. My pantry is full. My freezer is full. I could be trapped here for weeks and be fine. In fact, before leaving for Dublin for a year, I had to stop shopping a couple of months prior to try to bring down the supply. It was a creative endeavor and its own adventure to work with what I had in the fridge and freezer and cupboards. Even with all that motivation and diligence, I never got them close to empty.

I'm not saying I have "food issues." I'm not an over eater. I'm not overweight--if anything, I'm a little underweight these days. But there's definitely something that has me accumulate stores like this.

There are other clues. The butter wrappers: I had a lover once who left me, in part, because I saved butter wrappers. Who would really believe that it wasn't a matter of frugality? But in actuality, it's a matter of laziness, really. When I bake, which is not infrequently, I find it a total bother to cut a piece of wax paper and get out the butter or oil and butter it to grease the pan. I find it so darned convenient that the butter manufacturers, as a byproduct of their packaging, have done this for me! But in all honesty, there are other "butter wrapper" sorts of clues that cannot be explained by laziness and convenience.

I use good spatulas often. Pans and bowls are swiped all-but clean with them before they go into the sink for washing. The other morning, I watched with amusement as I collected the crumbs from cutting the Panettone to toss outside for the birds. I actually stood there, paused with the crumbs in my hand thinking "just throw them away already!" But I couldn't do it. I knew the birds would enjoy them, would eat every one.

Which is to say, I guess, that I have a "thing" about waste. Same lover, and mutual friends knew, after they'd host us for gorgeous, elaborate dinners, how I would react when they tossed anything left uneaten (and I mean in the kitchen, not on the plates) into the trash. So, shamelessly, I developed in no time a reputation for being the leftovers gal. I'd wrap the food (food, you see, not trash) up and take it home--even if only, in the case of nice fish or meats, for the cats to enjoy.

We had discussions about it. "I don't like leftovers," one would say with a grimace. "But the food has served its purpose," the other would assert, arguing that anything left was no longer the remains of a dinner but the waste products of putting on a dinner. I was not convinced. I love leftovers! To me they are home-cooked meals that I don't have to take time to cook. (More laziness, perhaps?)

Rarely are foods left to spoil in this house, and usually it's because they've shifted out of my view in the fridge and I forget they're there. Otherwise, I am conscious of what's opened, its lifespan, and of enjoying it before its expired. What does get past me (excepting meats or dairy) is not wasted either, however, as (surprise surprise) I'm an active composter. These foods get put to work making beautiful dirt! "Back to the earth," I say sometimes as I add them to the pot. What's not longer good for me is great for the gardens. I like that.

Ultimately, I don't think my habits and tendencies are so much about waste though as they are about appreciation. Let me get to the tea part, and maybe you'll see what I mean. This was supposed to be a short entry about a cup of tea.

Last night I opened a new box of Organic Chamomile tisane, sniffed a bag and with a soft "mmmm," dropped it in a china mug to pour a cup of comfort, simple joy. The thought--more a feeling than a thought--I had as I did so, adding a dab of miel d'acacia, surprised me. The words that came with it were something like, "Because I can, while I can." I felt regal, rich, privileged, a distinct awareness that the day would come when I wouldn' enjoy...such a cup...of lovely tea. Which is all to say that in an instant, I was acutely aware of the privilege of having a body, of being alive to have this tea. How many cups remain for me?

I climbed the stairs to a warm, soft bed where in utter comfort I drank it in, sip by sip--the tea, and all the rest.

Perhaps my "food thing" predisposes me to such a moment, I don't know. I do know that it feels primitively pure to appreciate the fruits the earth provides for my body. And I know that in doing so my spirit is fed as well.


Blogger Me said...

You're not lazy Kathryn, you're European like. :-)

7:26 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Deputat said...

Tant mieux :)

7:53 PM  

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