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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Butterfly Kisses for Bok Choy

I was in a store on Thursday, and just fell in love with some baby bok choy. They seem to be reclining like little movie stars in glowing cream-and-green.
And I wanted to rest my face on their tenderness, brush each one lightly, slowly, with my eyelashes. Butterfly kisses for bok choy.
I almost gave in to the urge--to close my eyes, sighing, and rest my right cheek gently on their perfect vegetable bodies.
I then, however, imagined the next message over the loudspeaker, “May Day, May Day! Aisle 4: Woman resting face on vegetables. May Day!”

So I fought that urge and brought some home.
More Than Wood Pellets
Last year I (again) committed myself to losing weight. I vowed to see food only as fuel, free of any value save as a source of energy. I’d tell myself (and startled friends)—“Wood pellets, that’s what it is. Nothing more than wood pellets.” I tried to convince myself that the only way to eat appropriately was to reduce my relationship with food to a mere mechanical thing, just a chemical process.
I was trying to remove the emotional hook, the one that can attach me to food. Food as the frequent answer to too many questions, food as my refuge from the world, from thwarted ambitions, looming possibilities, and from myself.
My "Wood Pellet Plan" barely survived a fortnight. I was demoralized: yet another failure with food. Now I say, thank goodness. Thank goodness, because my relationship with food would have been reduced to a kind of food prostitution: no joy, no mystery, no squealing, no appreciation beyond the utilitarian. 

I See You, Baby
An unexpected but welcome benefit of making more time for choosing, preparing, eating, and giving thanks for food (some of the changes I've put in place), is that I am now really seeing food, as if for the first time. Before I would examine assess produce, for bruises, wrinkles, weight, and dollar value. I’d sniff peaches, for example, only to determine ripeness. I brought only the critical, judging eye to most food experiences.
Now I can be impressed by the multi-faceted experience of interacting with food. I enjoy the variety of scents of ripeness from peaches on display. I have found myself admiring the rich green of carrot tops, or the seeming wisdom emanating from a clutch of ginger. I find myself smiling at food I like. And full disclosure: I've whispered to a Turkish fig, “Oh yes, you are a beauty.”
And I’ve noticed another development: I don’t always buy and/or consume food I find attractive. It isn’t a matter of finding satisfaction through “eating with my eyes.” It’s more like being attracted to a passerby on the street. I'll send an admiring glance, perhaps a smile, and continue on my way. Oh, I see you, baby.  

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