My relationship with food is a lot like my dependency on books. I can’t go too long without either one. Sometimes, this leads to excess, an explanation, in part, for the five extra pounds I gained while reading Pat Conroy’s Prince of Tides. Who knew an entire bag of Hershey’s miniature choco-late bars has more calories than one regular-sized bar? The blame, however, belongs to Conroy. If he had shortened the book by a couple hundred pages, his protagonist Tom Wingo could have spared himself the emotional damage of his childhood and I could still fit into my jeans.
This flawed logic has followed me for many years. I’m a nibbler. I can’t get through a chapter in a book without grabbing a cherry-licorice Twizzler. Pretzel sticks are good, too, but dipping them in peanut butter results in sticky fingers and even stickier pages, a distraction but not an impediment. I struggle to remember my Social Security number, but can quote, word for word, a verse from the Wendell Berry book I read six years ago and the jelly beans that accompanied it (Toasted Marsh-mallow and Very Cherry Jelly Bellys, in case you were wondering).
My enthusiasm for food goes beyond the literary spectrum and, well, just nibbling, too. Spe-cial times, events, and places are etched in memory laced with carbs and, usually, lots of them. Like the trip to Charleston Mike and I made 13 years ago when I was six months pregnant with our first child. We visited historic sites, shopped for antiques, and walked along the waterfront. What historic sites, you ask? Hmmm. I’ll get back to you on that. But, let me tell you about the crème brûlée at Slightly North of Broad Restaurant. Pure heaven. I’ve craved that caramelized custard ever since.
The lightly-breaded chicken medallions in brown sauce at The Moon and Sixpence in Bath, England, also come to mind. What Roman baths? Sorry. I was too busy licking my fork. I do re-member the water, though. It was next to the soft, warm bread roll and creamy butter.
A friend once asked me to recommend some places to see while visiting San Francisco, a fa-vorite spot I used to frequent before children and theme parks came into my world. I reminisced about the homemade coconut macaroons at the Petite Auberge Inn and Zuni Café’s mouth-watering ricotta gnocchi. And you can’t go to San Francisco without having a milk chocolate cara-mel or two at Ghirardelli Chocolate on Fisherman’s Wharf—it has a killer view of that big red bridge whose name escapes me. Just kidding. It was dark chocolate, not milk.
The writer Nora Ephron said, “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.” I would add to that my mom’s macaroni and cheese—the kind with mounds of sharp cheddar cheese, elbow pasta, and dollops of salted but-ter—that got me through many a heartache. Or my family friend Josephine’s shrimp Pad Thai and clear noodle spring rolls when I was pregnant and on bed rest. And I’ll always remember the out-of-this-world pecan ice cream and crêpes my friend Cynthia made when Gillian was born.
Life is seasoned with the memories we make and, in my case, the pasta I eat. I’m getting hun-gry. I think I’ll take a break and read a bit.
Now, where did I put those Twizzlers?
Amy Mangan is an associate editor
for Ocala Style and its special publications.
Her writing can be found