For me, cooking concerns more than just eating. It presents an existential dilemma. What’s it about? Often it’s about flavor. Other times, about nutrition. But almost always, for me at least, it’s about fear. Fear of going hungry. Fear of my kids being hungry. Fear of a hungry wife (oh, what fuel for the temper low blood sugar is—and I speak from my personal experience).
Why is this the case for me? Why isn’t it about desire and potential? Those are two equal valid views of what cooking promotes and contains.
Perhaps my point of view is rooted in my genes. I’m first generation Irish-American, and one of my favorite quotes is from Brian Tolle’s Irish Hunger Memorial, in lower Manhattan. A fascinating little piece of the old sod (literally), the site, is designed to raise public awareness of the events that led to the famine of 1845-52, is lined with quotes about hunger. The one that has stuck in my head is a Chinese proverb that goes, more or less, like this: “The well-fed man has many problems. The hungry man only one.”
What am I doing about my hunger right now? I’m about to head home at the end of the day, and Santa Maria has told me that Nina has come down with a 101-degree fever. I know that a nice serving of Bolognese is waiting for me (I put it out to defrost this morning), but I’m not sure when I’ll get to eat it. It could be hours from now.
So I’ve turned to one of my favorite new discoveries: Siggi's yogurt. Made in the Icelandic style of skyr (in a carbon-footprint diminishing upstate New York location), it is thick and delicious—not too sweet—and protein rich. It might not be cooking to open a little tub of it, but it is a satiating salvation, and just enough to keep me in good spirits until I can settle down over that bowl of pasta later tonight.