I had the best fried chicken* of my life last night.
It wasn’t just good, it was “let’s pause this conversation and take a moment of silence to bless the chef and this yard bird that gave its life in order to shake my very foundations with a culinary orgasm the likes of which I’d never felt before.” Seriously.
Anyway, this is a roundabout way for me to say that I love food. I love eating it. I love writing about it. And I love to savor the memory of eating something truly delicious. One of my favorite quotes is by Anaïs Nin. She says, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” And, for me, writing about food is the pinnacle of savoring some of the best experiences one can have in life, whether alone or with others. Don’t mistake me for a foodie. Some of those folks seem to have super particular tastes and want to have their cheese sandwiches served on a bed of hen’s teeth or something. Me, I’m just greedy. And I like to think I’m as greedy for life as I am for food, ready to sop of all the world’s savory experiences with a biscuit of enthusiasm and a liquid chaser of trust in the universe.
SN: If you’ve never been to Buttermilk Kitchen and live in or plan to visit Atlanta sometime in the near future, remedy your error and get yourself to the best biscuit peddler in the city/South/world.
In my first book, Bliss, I wrote about food like I’d just discovered it. Just about every chapter had a long scene involving food or sex or both. The sex was almost accidental, though. In its first form, Bliss was just food porn with a bit of heavy petting thrown in every now and again. But once my editor got hold of it, the novel became something much wetter, and not just because of all the rain falling in the novel during the sweltering Jamaican summer that was its backdrop. Sometimes I regret the hyper-sexual turn the book took. The New York publishing process took a novel that had essentially been a culinary lesbian romance set in Jamaica and transformed it into something slightly outside my intention.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Bliss and the form that it’s in now, even with that small regret. If anything, the real regret has been allowing that single editor’s comment to shape the body of my work since then. I am a bit of a pervert, make no mistake. I love reading and writing about humans writhing together in that fruitless effort to become one, but maybe I would’ve sprinkled the sex-heavy novels with the occasional sugar-sweet tale.
Sometimes I think about that and the lukewarm reception of one of my previous books, Broken in Soft Places. This novel, while about human sexuality and the sometimes strangling cords of connection we form with others, it most definitely was not an erotic lesbian novel. For one thing, there was no explicit sex, and for another, a bisexual man was one of the main characters. Most of the negative reviews were about these things rather than anything else about the story. And so, sensitive artiste that I am, I immediately scurried back into my usual warren.
Now, four years after that book, I find myself once again wanting to do other things, to stand up from this box I’ve written myself into, yawn and stretch and see what else is out there for me. Food is and always will be something I happily write about, and now travel has made it onto the list of my obsessions. I’m sure there are other things on the horizon for me, after all, I am ever ready to gobble up new and delicious experiences.
Stay hungry, my friends.
*Experience the chicken at Greens and Gravy in Atlanta.