Guest Post by Aly Walansky
I feel like food is the ultimate bonding ritual.
Once upon a time, when I wanted to get closer to someone, I invited him over for dinner. (He had no idea that I destroyed three pots and set off my fire alarm in the process.)
At other times when I wanted to show friends I appreciated them, I brought them baked goods. Homemade and from the heart, right? The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? We’ve all heard all these phrases before.
Ultimately, a great way to get to know someone is by learning the food they crave. I’ve always believed this is what what was meant by the term “comfort” food – whether a person reaches for gooey fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies or for some kicked-up nachos, the foods we crave say a lot about us. And knowing what each other craves says a lot about our inter-relationships with others.
We use food for nostalgia, and finding shared food loves is a great way to break the ice and break bread with strangers. But sadly, food can also have the opposite result – it can remind us of someone we love, someone we lost, someone that hurt us, making that sweet and spicy dish suddenly taste cold and bitter.
Last week was a really hard week for me, personally. The sort of week where it feels suddenly like someone punched you in the gut – and the pain just never goes away. Even a week later, perhaps it’s too soon, but still thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and an ache to my insides. It was a week where I lost someone I held very dear. Soon after, someone I loved very much chose the most painful time possible to break ties. (He says “it’s a break,” I say doing so then and there makes us broken.) One loss was to death, the other to abandonment, yet they feel very much the same – and I find myself mourning both rather distinctly, and yet similarly.
With one friend, I shared a history of sushi – I take comfort in the memory of our times together by enjoying sushi in his memory. The other, we enjoyed food that was a whole lot more spicy – Thai, Indian, Mexican – those places where we recently were together, I’m avoiding right now. The tastes, now, a tinge of bitter.
It’s funny how intimately food relates to how we feel, isn’t it? How tastes and flavors can bring comfort but also sense memory can change the flavor of what was once delicious? If you are ordering tonight, share it with someone you love. Share something extra delicious and make a new memory – and, order in while you are at it – rainy nights are way more fun when you don’t have to be out in them!
Aly Walansky is a popular New York City based lifestyles and travel journalist who seeks no greater mission than the perfect spicy tuna roll. Her writing can be seen in dozens of online magazines and print publications. Visit her blog atwww.alittlealytude.com and follow her on twitter at @AlyWalansky.