I recall once being at a gym and listening to one ultra-fit man saying to another ultra-fit man, “Food is fuel. Energy in, energy out. That’s all it is.”
I was at a machine that promised to whittle my outer thighs to the sleekness of a surfboard and paused, mid-thrust, when I heard this sentence spoken aloud.
Energy in, energy out?
No, no, no. Hadn’t this man’s mother told him? Food is love. Food is comfort. Food is the last thing there when everyone else is asleep and the world is quiet and you’ve just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and you need to know the world does, in fact, go on. Food is the small fire McCarthy says you’ve got to always keep going. I mean, I know he meant that literally, but isn’t the whole point of being human that we can take something literal and make it figurative and enjoy a cinnamon roll? Can’t a freshly-baked baguette and homemade jam be a small fire?
And what of drink? What of a cocktail on the porch, when the sun is setting and the children are all wonky and begging for dinner (which you haven’t yet considered) and for a moment all is right with the world as you sip a whiskey and ginger and pretend you can’t hear farther than the front door?
Oh, and let us not think drink means only alcoholic beverages because then life would be dull without the smoky-hued morning elixir known as coffee but also known as happiness and definitely known as the thing that makes Amy a respectable citizen. Coffee. Tea. Herb-infused spa waters we drink with cucumbers perched atop our puffy eyelids. Lemonade. Juice, squeezed fresh by people who love us enough to use elbow grease.
I think, for me, when someone stands in a kitchen (with a kitchen towel tossed over a shoulder) and prepares a meal or pours me a drink, there is something so comforting in that gesture, something so soothing in the act of being fed that it feels as if I’m at home wherever that’s happening, whether it’s in my girlfriend’s kitchen with kids underfoot or my mother’s kitchen with the tea kettle whistling or my students’ village home in China with the scent of charcoal wafting in from an open window. To be fed, to be cooked for, to be given a bite of food and a sip of drink are perhaps the most fundamental ways we show we care for each other, see each other and literally want each other to survive.
In honor of all that high food-and-drink drama, we’re serving up cocktail recipes this month for fall porch sipping and outdoor adventuring (p. 34), heading out to explore the resurgence of small farming in the Tarheel state
(p. 26) and hearing from a group of women in Harnett County committed to feeding anyone in need at His Daily Bread (p. 30). We also continue our series on the opioid epidemic with stories of lived experience, hope and recovery (p. 52). Finally, we visit the G. Charles Bakery in Aberdeen for freshly-baked bread, biscotti and blueberry scones (p. 46).
Whether you’re eating breakfast on your patio listening to birdsong, cooking dinner over a campfire or simply flipping a grilled cheese to scarf down before Downton Abbey begins, food and drinks are part of all of us, and how we share them is one of the best ways we connect.
Happy feasting and drinking,
Editor’s Note: We’re taking our time with this month’s Book Club pick: The Recovering: Intoxication and It’s Aftermath, so we’ll be writing up our review next month, giving us ample time to sit with this memoir and think hard about its message.