I randomly found this passage in my notepad. I don’t remember how it came about–it must have been for some dumbass application. Anyway, I’m posting it because it’s been too long again and I still can’t come up with anything new.
I was born in China but moved to the mystical land of New Zealand when I turned nine. It’s a place where sheep roam freely, people are sweet but phony, and the most average coffee shits on the best espresso you can find in NYC. It’s the kind of town you dream of escaping while you live there but miss terribly once you leave.
My whole life there–living in resentment, departing in glee, reflecting with fondness – is how I developed my voice as a writer–curious and humorous, yet somehow always tinged with nostalgia. Even though I’m finally living in the city of my dreams, exploring sites and restaurants in every corner of the five boroughs (nah, just Manhattan, to be completely honest), I still think about that mince and cheese pie from Browns Bay and that slice of pavlova I had at a bakery that probably no longer exists.
I think food evokes our most visceral memories. If our existence is indeed highlighted by specific impressions, then food is the chain that connects all the dots in life and puts everything into perspective. How did the apple tarts that doused you with euphoria in childhood become an unbearable source of grief in adulthood? How did you ever come to crave coffee when you hated it with a passion as a kid? How are you going to look at strawberry shortcakes (lol) after you rejected the dude who stuffed an engagement ring in one?
Eating doesn’t inspire such introspection. When you’re ravenous, you’ll inhale anything you see, and when you’re chewing, you see only two categories of food–the disgusting and the phenomenal. Everything that’s not disgusting is phenomenal. You’re not really that hungry if you’re lucid enough to critique and analyze your food. Truth is, you don’t grasp the philosophical significance of what you shove into your mouth until you’re done digesting it. Introspection happens in retrospect.
How was a 13-year-old supposed to know that the moment he got tired of hot chocolate would mark the end of the beginning of his life? How was he supposed to know that it would all go downhill as he transitioned from mochas to lattes to espressos? Would I still enjoy that $20 burger when I can scarcely afford to pay rent after I graduate and move out? Food is the reckless, instantaneous decisions we make that would come to make sense in hindsight.
Food is life, quite literally.