5 Thoughts: Confessions of a Vicarious Eater

1. “WHAT DID YOU EAT?” THIS question works its way into every conversation I have or had with someone (online and off) relating to culinary experiences.

2. There’s a reason for this: I am obsessed with matters gastronomical. Not in a bad way; perhaps “obsessed” is the wrong word. “Deeply fascinated” would be a better descriptor. I simply enjoy cooking, eating, discussing, and reading about food in all its wonderful forms — especially if they’re unfamiliar to me.

3. I come by it honestly. When I was a kid, whenever we’d go to a restaurant and see something unfamiliar on the menu, my dad would say “Bring us two orders of whatever that is.” One for him, one for me, while my sister munched her burger or BLT and my mom would have something comforting (usually scampi or another pasta). Meanwhile, Dad and I would bliss out on whatever that was. And tote up another experience-mark on our virtual chalkboards.

4. Currently, I’m a bit more selective in my tastes: no pork or shellfish, no meat with milk. But everything else is fair game. While I am mostly a man of simple tastes, I do like dishes and recipes that are somewhat labor-intensive; I enjoy the complexity of flavors and the frenetic yet meditative challenge of evoking them.

5. My fascination has become so well-known among my friends that when they Facebook an undescribed image of something tasty, or a check-in at a restaurant or pub, all I have to do is post a “?” to get them to name savory (or sweet) specifics. This expands my view of the comestible universe — and gives me yet another inspiration to eat, or cook, “whatever that is.”

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