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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Personal Foods

Just want to point out for those of you who may be unfamiliar with Deborah Madison, that she has a little article in the current AARP magazine bearing the title of her latest book: What We Eat When We Eat Alone.
The subject of the book, and the article, is what Madison calls "personal foods" and describes her own in this lovely paragraph: 
Weird foods notwithstanding, when Patrick and I started posing the eating-solo question to friends, we discovered that most people have one or two dishes (what I call "personal foods") that they cook for themselves alone. Personal foods do more than satisfy hunger; they nourish us in a deep and even spiritual way. My personal food is toasted rye bread covered with a thin layer of cheddar and marmalade, a treat my grandmother enjoyed daily with a cup of dark tea. We shared this toast when I visited her as a child, and I've always been drawn to its pungent flavors.
One of the reasons Deborah Madison has become my food guru shows up in the above description - she recognizes and is not afraid to talk about the "deep and even spiritual" dimensions of food. Her cookbooks speak to that need within us all to be nourished by what we eat at exactly that deep and often spiritual level.

Deborah's  husband Patrick's personal food is shown, in an improved form over the Arkansas original, in the photo: grilled pimento cheese panini, which the couple sometimes has for dinner, with a glass of French champagne.  My current eat-on-my-own food, what I often have for lunch before leaving to teach my afternoon class, is a flour tortilla with strips of roasted green chile, a shredded Mexican cheese sprinkled over them, then grilled in the toaster oven until the cheese melts and I can smell the chile.  It's a sort of quesadilla, I guess, though much less trouble to make.  I don't know how spiritually fulfilling it is, but it's mighty good, and keeps me going through an afternoon of trying to get across the difference between direct and indirect objects to my adult ESL class.

Anyone have some personal or solo-dining favorites to share?  I'd love to hear them.


Cynthia said...

This may sound really strange, but I had to learn to eat just for myself again after I started living alone after so many years. I had to really think about what I really enjoyed, and I've rediscovered how much I just love eggs. Omelettes for breakfast, a quiche will provide multiple meals, fried egg sandwiches with sharp cheddar cheese. strips of roasted red pepper and mustard. It's been a pleasure.

jewel said...

What a wonderful thought in a time when most of us eat mindlessly, on the run. One of the simple things I've rediscovered for myself is a simple wrap of spinach/artichoke humus, feta cheese and a mix of radish, broccoli and alfalfa bean sprouts. It takes me back to my early days as a vegetarian when I thought I was cool and hip. But that is comfort food for me. Plus, it's a bit messy and that makes it fun.

marigolds2 said...

You are still cool and hip, Julia. Just saying.

Cynthia, nothing about this sounds strange at all. Living, and eating, alone are so very different from living, cooking, eating as a family. Eggs are a perfect food, and we too eat a lot of them. Yesterday I tried something new, as a change from omlettes and fritattas: a strata, a choice they sometimes have in the cafe at Barnes and Noble. I made it with spinach, roasted red peppers and green chile. Was able to use up some sourdough bread that's been in the freezer forever, thawed and sliced it, brushed it w/olive oil, and used it to layer with the veggies. It came out pretty darn good, and enough for Gail to take some to lunch, and another dinner's worth still left. The bread absorbed a mixture of eggs, milk, herbs and spices - so it came out kind of like a savory bread pudding.

Cynthia said...

I've got a recipe for for a bacon and cheese strata on my recipe holder now, but yours sounds even better.

marigolds2 said...

Cynthia, I found the basic recipe somewhere on the Internet, but fooled around with it, added my own stuff, and made it bigger than the 8x8 pan they wanted me to cook it in; there is a thin layer of cheese in this one too, and I sprinkled a little on top of the whole thing before I baked it. I very seldom just follow a recipe, sometimes to good effect sometimes to disaster.
We haven't eaten fourlegged creatures for over a year now, and oddly enough pork is the only one I miss. I was a real bacon fan, and can imagine that it would be delish in a strata. I've been using turkey bacon during this time, but have now given that one up as well.