Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I stood at the stove, wooden spoon in hand, reveling in the beefy goodness saturating the air and condensing into damp whirls upon the kitchen windowpane.  Nina Simone crooned from the stereo while the rosemary and sea salt bread crisping in the oven tinged the house with that hominess that I swear only comes from baking something with yeast inside of it.  The chaos of the day was slipping slowly into the shadows, dinner was moments away...

"Mom, I'm starving--can I have a snack?"  My fingers clench for a split second on the wooden handle and my spine stiffens. The woman who has spent two hours on her feet to produce this masterpiece of a meal is slightly offended, but a glance at the six foot two, twelve year-old lanky boy in the doorway restores my sense of humor--seriously, the boy has always been hungry.  However...

"Do you know what the most important ingredient is?" I ask, my head tilted slightly, eyes shining, a smile on my lips.  He sighs, he's heard this many times.  Grinning back, he turns to leave with that resigned slouch of the shoulders, capitulating as gracefully as his growling stomach will allow.  "Ten more minutes!" I call after him, chuckling softly to myself.  My friends, do you know what the most essential ingredient is? 


My mother used to tell me this as I too, hung about the kitchen, drooling over the scents escaping the blistering oven.  The pots that simmered upon the stovetop, the pies cooling on the sideboard.  Ahhh, the delicious joy of aching anticipation.  Feeling positively hollow, it seemed as if the blessing was going to last till dawn, but then that first bite....oh, sweet heaven!  Eyes closed, mouth full...utter bliss. 

With this holiday season creeping closer, candy stuffed fists knocking on our doors, programs dripping gravy and cheese seeping from our television screens, hypnotic magazine pictures of the ultimate festival of cakedom strewn about our coffee tables--may we take a moment to pause.  To evaluate....

How hungry are you? 

I fear the truth of that question may surprise you.  For if one is excruciatingly honest--for many of us, it has been years. 

It's the latest diet fad, hanging about a while now--the idea that the standard "three meals a day" motif of life was actually straight from the Satanic bible.  It's solely responsible for that cushy tush and those darling love handles we all seem to sport....GET THEE AWAY FROM ME, YE SPAWN OF HADES!!  (ok, I am actually laughing as I type that line...)  Rather you must eat six small meals spread throughout your day, peppered with "healthy snacks" and tiny treats all in the name of:  "Never let yourself get hungry because you lack the self-control to not gorge until reaching the point of belt-loosening expansion." *sigh*

But I ask, have we lost more than the odd pound in this quest?  We are becoming, in oh-so-many ways, such a society of the moment--waiting for anything at all, a thing of the past.  On-line shopping, instant downloads, fast food, drive through restaurants (NOT to be confused with fast food, mind you) automatic-importunate-split second life.  We multi-task our existence and waiting is a terribly un-vogue ritual spoken of only by those that actually know how to dial a rotary phone.

Desire and yearning.  Thirst.  Longing...needing....craving.  The friction of a fingertip along the soft skin on inside of your elbow, the absolute most perfect Christmas gift ever found, a love letter written by hand and sprayed with scent that lingers in the mailbox for days, making you smile.....butter melting into the dips and divots of a piece of hot bread, the oven still spilling it's yeasty warmth into the kitchen behind you....each of these, made so much more splendid....

By the wait. 

By the appetite. 

So this year, as your life amps up into overdrive and your schedules begin to collide like planets knocked out of orbit, I challenge you.  Don't snack on your way home.  Don't indulge every whim--for the very definition of a whim is just a passing fancy....wait for desire. 

Be hungry. 

Life will taste better. 


Shelly said...

I've long known this, but you said it so much better than I ever could.

Remembering Grace said...

Oh, perfectly said.

My neurologist banned peanut butter and chocolate from my diet, among other things, which eliminated all my go-to snack foods. So I don't snack anymore, and have realized, I don't really need to.

Talk about liberating.

Anonymous said...

Oooohhhh I LOVE you! I woke up feeling like life was so short, and that I needed to start enjoying every minute of it more - to slow down, and SAVOR it -- THIS was perfect to wake up fully to and read over coffee.

I am so printing this out and giving it to my family when they visit! ... and sticking it on my mirror.

Robbie Grey said...

My appetite, like my metabolism, borders upon manic; somedays, I have to force myself to eat but a single meal during the day, whilst others, I have the appetite of a locust. Strangely, I've never weighed more than one-hundred fifty-five, which, for my height, has had past lovers, friends, and family members wonder if I'm either bulimic or a coke fiend.

Out on the prairie said...

I love it, it brought back some good memories. My mother used to give a slice of potato occasionally, it was a real treat for a hungry kid. Ten minutes could seem like eternity.

terlee said...

My husband would always want to pinch something to eat just before dinner. When I would say he had to wait, he would start nibbling on my neck instead. I miss those little snack moments... ;D

Shea Goff said...

Amen, sister. It's the one thing I miss and most appreciate about this time in my life. It seems I'm less hungry now, less plagued with desire. My Mom says ten years of this so I find new ways to fill all that time.

Chantel said...

Shelly--you do say the nicest things! :)

Grace--banned peanut butter?? My goodness! lol That would be tough for me, but I know what you mean about the snacking!

Jane--girl, I love you back!

Robbie--ha! A coke head could never write like you do. :)

Prairie--I know what you mean about that ten minutes, but then it all tastes so good!

Terlee--what a sweet memory, love that image. :)

Shea--I'm sure you will, but perhaps just now the visions you capture with your camera are filling enough? xo

Leah Griffith said...

I love it! "Be hungry. Life will taste better."
Right now, thanks to your good writing, I'm craving a piece of freshly baked bread and butter. YUM!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I could learn a lot from this. I snack all day long at work!

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Excellent advice. Hmm. I can't remember the last time I was actually hungry. Worse, I'm beginning a big writing project, and it has thrown me right back to my working days when I snacked at every 100th word. Must cut up an apple instead of dipping into the bag of chocolates. And BTW, this essay would be a great addition to any number of magazines' holiday issues.

Intense Guy said...

Been a long time since I've been truly hungry. I've lost 130 pounds this past year focusing on eating more fruits and greens and hardly any dairy and meats.

I'll never go vegan - your recipes sound too good for that!

Chantel said...

Leah--lol, fresh bread can make anyone hungry, right?

Optimistic--it's so easy to snack, but then if you let yourself get really hungry...man, even a simple grilled cheese tastes amazing!

Bliss--thank you, what a lovely compliment! Good luck with NaNo! (and I'm with you on the snacking--my thing is almonds, have to let my husband hide the bag...)

Intense Guy--wow, 130 lbs is huge--congrats! Yes, what we choose is just as important as how much. I think getting in touch with what it means to be hungry (for another's company, affection, witty conversation etc...) leads to a greater appreciation of life, don't you?

Munir said...

I understand appetite only too well.

I take Metformin for controlling my blood sugar level. While the medicine is in my system, I do not want to look at food, let alone eat. It is the side effect of the medicine at least for me. The problem is that I have to eat so my sugar level does not go dangerously low. It is very difficult to eat when you do not have an appetite.

Richelle Ferree said...

Life should always taste better. I'm so glad I have you to friend and read!

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Oh how I agree. With our diminished family I don't make serious meals as often but the other night I was enjoying the anticipation of an excellent oven roast with potatoes and veggies. When I told my daughter it would be an hour, she and her boyfriend went out to get bagels. Bagels!!

Anonymous said...

The web still misses you {{{HUGS}}}}

ND Mitchell said...

Missing your insights Chantel :)

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