So last night I finished Deborah Madison's What We Eat When We Eat Alone and I'm not sure quite how I feel about it. I like the premise. The first time I read about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, I was quite taken with the idea that things behave one way under observation and quite another when left to their own devices. And what is true of particles should necessarily be true of us, right? We're macroscopic clusters of particles.
In any case, the premise of this book was to (informally) collect data on what people eat when there's no spouse/child/friend/parent/boss/etc. watching. And I have come to the conclusion that Deborah Madison encounters people very different from myself and the people I know. Here's the thing: I love food. I love cooking. I love fussy, pain-in-the-ass recipes that specify points of origin for vanilla beans. I own a ravioli press. I have strong opinions on bottled lemon juice. I am an unapologetic food snob whose children have never consumed a single solitary Chicken McNugget.
The people in Deborah's book seem to unfailingly eat elaborate, grown-up things when they are alone. Not one of the replies in the 250-ish pages was anything like "I make some toast which I slather with Nutella and bananas and I eat that while roasting marshmallows over the stove. Then I wash all that down with an inch of terrible wine left in the back of the fridge from a chicken recipe. I have three Andes candies to cleanse my palate, then I eat some bison jerky, four saltines, and the last half-cup of eggnog ice cream in the container."
Am I really the only person who does this on occasion? I felt like such an ass reading about some med student making himself "cinnamon-scented quinoa with almonds and pine nuts, chili-and-garlic sauteed chard, all topped with eggs cooked over easy." And you guys! His accompanying rotisserie chicken came from a progressive grocer. I don't even know what the hell that is. I mean, it all sounds awesome. It really does. And I do things like that for myself at times. I guess I was just expecting a little more...I don't know. A PostSecret type confessional for foodies from this, maybe.
When no one is watching, I eat cheese made from the milk of a regular old cow.
I drink wine coolers.
I like that gross pudding from industrial sized cans.
Sometimes I have fantasies about cellophane-wrapped food products that can withstand a nuclear holocaust.
But what can I expect from a woman who is horrified by frozen vegetables?