We were hungry. Really, profoundly hungry. It had been days since a meal larger than a bowl of broth or a salad had passed our lips. Somehow Ryan and I had made it through a day of working the Sunday Farmer’s Market. I had my first coffee (oh, sweet caffeinated bliss) in a week and was feeling almost ready to dive into the market, fork first. Having no appetite during the past week of sickness was difficult. I live a enviously well-fed life. I seem to be able to whip up an appetite quicker than a menu can even be fathomed. But, this last week or so, I had nothin’. I wanted nothin’. I had no desire to eat, cook, look at food, or really even smell it (problematic at work). Ryan and I were a bit dumbfounded. It is an understatement to say we have a common love for this subject. It defines our days, it is what we do together, it is the spark that brought us together. When we met, this is how it went:
Setting: Farmer’s market, my stand, a crisp December day
Me: So, what are you doing for Christmas?
Him: Well, my family’s coming out from Massachusetts and I’m gonna cook for them. It should be interesting. They really love food.
Me: Oh yeah? That’s awesome. What are you gonna make?
(I interject here to say that I expected something very normal, maybe kinda bachelor-centric….pizza even. I wouldn’t have discriminated. He’s dreamy either way.)
Him: Oh, well. Let’s see. Crab, scallops, some Alaskan Cod, probably braise some vegetables. Maybe some clams, shrimp scampi. My dad’s a great cook.
Me: (silence, mouth agape)
Him: Uh, yeah, so…….
Me: (picturing our life in the kitchen together…silence, mouth agape)
Him: Yeah…um… cool! Do you want to trade some bread for some meat or anything? No? I should probably get back….
Anyway, we obviously figured out how to speak to each other and then we learned to cook and eat together. I can’t explain how this has taken me in and warmed my little soul. So, enough with the lovey talk. Sorry. It’s fall. It happens.
Last night we went to a fund-raising dinner held at Il Cane Rosso in San Francisco. It was to benefit Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, where a fire recently ripped through their poultry farm and destroyed many buildings and much land. Il Cane Rosso has a very farmer-driven menu, and is sourcing some beautiful ingredients from many small producers. The dinner last night was very successful and the reason I say that with such ridiculous, uninformed confidence is because it was insanely delicious. As I said before, we were drawing our last breaths and feeling like perhaps this was it, hunger had won…..And then, placed in front of us, on a cool, brisk, San Francisco evening, was an array of plates to warm even the Grinchiest of tummies.
A colorful, festive tomato salad, with a “bloody mary” twist: a celery and horseradish vinaigrette. It was spicy, pungent and a great wake-up call to my taste buds. A roasted top sirloin, delicate slices folding onto one another. Ryan was excited about this, partially because it was his beef and partially ’cause of the hunger. Tomato-braised green beans, which were so thin and dainty in their pool of shocking red sauce. A pretty little dish of potato gratin, which you know is what every human wants for their last meal on earth. Buttery, salty layers of soft potato, crisp on the edges and still bubbling from the heat of the oven. I immediately thought of my mom’s scalloped potatoes she makes during the holidays. Dessert of a sweet, crumbly apple cake with a spoonful of fresh cream was almost too much to handle. We both felt the dishes were so festive in a warm-house-full-of-kind-faces way, we felt welcomed back to the land of the living. And eating, more importantly.