A few weeks ago, I suffered a partial intestinal blockage and my digestive system stopped working. I’ll spare you the gory details as to why I got into this situation or how it felt. Just know very little was going in or out, and it was unpleasant.
To unblock my intestine without surgical intervention, the doctor prescribed a clear liquid diet, and then gradually, every 48 hours, he stepped it up to soft foods and onto more solid foods. If I couldn’t tolerate a level, my intake was sent back to the minor leagues of clear liquids.
It was the equivalent of turning my digestive system off then on again, like we do when our Wi-Fi acts up.
The reboot took several attempts, and I spent many days consuming only apple juice, ginger ale, and chicken broth. Sometimes I swapped in beef broth. I’m fancy that way.
I was nauseous and uncomfortable. And when I wasn’t nauseous and uncomfortable, I missed eating. Because – and here’s a hot take for the opinion page – I like food.
Apologies to my editors and publishers for such a shocking point of view.
I’ve been a fan of food my whole life. In my high school yearbook, which is so old, it’s written in Sanskrit, I stated that food was my “PRIDE ‘N JOY.”
Incidentally, I also said waking up early was my yearbook “Pet Peeve.” 5000 years later, I stand by both pronouncements.
Like all Jewish girls, I believe that chicken broth is a basic food group. It was delicious, but after six or seven days of only drinking my calories, I began to miss the solid food experience: using utensils, opening my mouth wide, chewing. People shall not live on sipping alone. It says that in the Bible.
I craved a crisp iceberg wedge with blue cheese and bacon bits. Or a crunchy bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast with mayo. Or a side of bacon. This Jewish girl also believes bacon is a basic food group.
When I stepped up to soft foods, I had a yen for chocolate mousse, which is how I found myself in CVS’s food aisle looking for chocolate Snack Pack pudding. CVS reliably stocks my childhood junk food favorites, Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, Twizzlers, and Spaghettios. I knew they’d have the Snack Packs.
For a pharmacy, the CVS food aisle isn’t very good for your health. I was once surprised to find almond milk there, but that was probably just a healthy Hamptons thing. Pop-Tarts are as nutritious as the food aisle gets. Its strawberry filling has nutrient-rich antioxidants.
Since I shop for sustenance in the CVS food aisle, you’d think I’m not a foodie. But I am. I enjoy the swankiest food as much as I enjoy home cooking or junk food. Go ahead, serve me something fricasseed, meunièred, or sous vided, I’ll eat it as happily as I eat a Filet-O-Fish.
Although I love food so darn much, I don’t relish cooking. (Ooh! A food pun!) It’s too much chopping and slicing. It requires patience and precision, qualities I don’t possess. I’ve started multiple fires in my oven. Once when I was trying to broil bacon.
Today my lunch was a toasted English muffin with butter and strawberry jam. I burned the muffin. Even toasters are hard for me.
And what’s it all for? You prepare a wonderful meal, you eat it, and then what? You’ve got to cook again tomorrow.
The only reason I haven’t starved to death – aside from the fact that my Ukrainian ancestry has provided enough fat in my tushi and thighs for months or possibly years of survival on the famine-ridden Steppe – is that Mr. Hockey likes to cook.
Hockey players are not known for their gastronomy, but Mr. Hockey contains multitudes. For instance, he also golfs.
Mr. Hockey can cook anything. Tonight, we’re having cassoulet – his recipe is chicken, bacon, and sausage cooked on beans and cabbage. Swoon! He adds bacon because he loves me!
Last Christmas, he served Peking duck. To dry them out, he hung the ducks from the bike rack on the ceiling of our garage. You never get used to raw ducks dangling in your garage. Anytime we wanted a soda, we had to duck the ducks.
Mr. Hockey has always been an intuitive cook. In college, he substituted the milk with beer in his 38-cent generic mac & cheese. Why spend money on milk when in college, there’s always beer?
Mr. Hockey descends from a long line of butchers and deli owners. He came to our marriage with some sharp knives, industrial-sized ladles, and a pair of poultry shears. I on the other hand, stem from a long line of junk sellers and hardware store owners. I came to the marriage with a rusted carburetor and a copious collection of screws.
He uses the poultry shears to spatchcock chicken. If I can give any advice to the kids out there, it’s get yourself a partner who can spatchcock a chicken.
The good news is the reboot worked. I’m unblocked! My last step to a regular diet was raw vegetables. Boy, did I miss my veggies. What a thrill to finally crunch on that iceberg wedge. I love vegetables so much I could be vegetarian. Except that I also really love meat.
And have I mentioned bacon?
Published in The East Hampton Press on March 2.2023
Photo by ME!!!