I love food, always have. I love reading about it, shopping for it, throwing the perfect dinner party for friends, and cooking for my family. But I am particularly crazy about baking. I became enamored the first night of Hanukkah, circa 1964, when I received a Kenner Easy-Bake Oven. I was seven years old. Once I baked my way through the starter kit, producing such delightful cakes as the desiccated devil’s food, and the red dye-enhanced strawberry, there was nowhere to go but up. I was hooked.
But like all love affairs, this one has had its complications. As I grew, food ceased to be something I simply ate, and instead morphed into something I had a “relationship” with. A complex, exasperating relationship more frustrating than any bad boyfriend, and it’s gone on for decades.
I have boundless joyful memories around food; from learning at eleven how to stuff cabbage by my grandmother’s side, to teaching my young daughter to roll out her first piecrust; the year I spent at cooking school in Paris where food was treated with spectacular reverence, and the countless early mornings I worked as a baker, lovingly wrapped up in sweet creative expression. Unfortunately, there were also days when depressed and spent, I binge-ate my way through two pounds of Swedish fish and a couple of calzones. Or the nights I trolled the aisles of Seven-Eleven trying to decide which was healthier, the churo or the Ben & Jerry’s. Then the inevitable mornings spent stepping on and off the scale hoping to magically maneuver the number. For the most part, I have succeeded in my furious struggle to manage my weight with restrictive diets and endless sweaty miles pounded out on the treadmill, but I’m getting older and that number is growing harder to control.
I thought by now I would have outgrown this twisted journey of dieting and binging, starving and obsessing, but it shows no signs of abating. As I age, my rocky relationship with food doesn’t wither. Instead, it grows like a starfish with regenerating limbs. It’s exhausting, and I want out. I seek help from countless gurus who claim they have the secret, but whom to listen to? Scientists who preach calories in, calories out? Feel-good nutritionists who say get in touch with your hunger? The no carb, whole carb, low sugar, high protein, vegan and Paleo proselytizers whose books are everywhere? I’ve spent fruitless hours on dozens of uncomfortable couches, owned by an assortment of therapists, and I’ve read everything Geneen Roth has ever written. It’s enough to make me curl up with a jumbo bag of peanut M&M’s and binge-watch Bewitched.
I hope when I am 85 I’m not still fixated on my pant size; that I will have let go of the crazy of food and body focus. I may be saddled with the self-esteem of a box turtle, but it’s time to accept that I’m doing the best I can. I want to celebrate my passion for food, not demonize it. I want to bake with abandon and share with those I love. I want to enjoy a slice of homemade pie without the choir in my brain calculating the calories.
Which brings us to today and this new blog. Such a Good Eater will be the space I share bits of my life as an ambivalent baker, and that ambivalence dribbles all over the place. Into the nooks and crannies of motherhood, marriage, middle age and gummy worm addiction. There may even be the occasional recipe.
My search for the uncomplicated pleasure of food continues, where the sweet joy of an ice cream cone on a hot August day awaits. I hope you’ll join me, because I could really use the company.