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Are you what you eat?

· On Writing

I would never complain again, I've often said, if I could only write about food for a living. Because food is so inextricably linked to love and longing and sex and family and fortune, writing about food is writing about feelings. The only trouble is that there's no money in it.

The food writing I mean isn't recipes — I don't have the patience for that. Nor reviews — it kills me to criticize someone else's hard work in the kitchen. And while I adore a culinary memoir or nonfiction foodways history, the writing I love best is food in fiction. We are physical beings, drawn to tangible rituals and rites, connected to food by all of our senses. If you've watched Big Night or The Lunchbox or Babette's Feast or Chocolat, you've seen onscreen how good food can change the human heart. And you've left hungry.

My own stories often gravitate toward food and feelings. I've taken inspiration from manna in the desert in "The Fruit of the Spirit." From countless chicken dinners in "Flightless Birds." And from the local hipster co-op in "Hearts of Palm."

I have just started reading How to Cook a Wolf, written by M.F.K. Fisher during World War II, and that it's taken me until now to discover the book is quite ridiculous. She poetically advocates to maintain grace and wisdom when the wolf is snuffing at the door: “All men are hungry. They always have been. They must eat, and when they deny themselves the pleasures of carrying out that need, they are cutting off part of their possible fullness, their natural realization of life, whether they are poor or rich.”