Man Does Not Live With Bread, Alone
With our family all together for holidays, what I looked forward to most today was sharing breakfast. So when my husband waltzed into the kitchen and brazenly prepared himself a huge wad of toast with gobs of peanut butter and jam, I hit the roof.
“What are you doing?” I asked incredulously as I tried to pry the dripping hunk of blasphemy out of his hands.
“I’m eating,” he said matter-of-factly, holding the hunk of insult high above his head, out of my reach. As if I was blind.
“Well, don’t ruin your appetite” I said sternly, and I proceeded to fry the sausage loudly in front of his face.
He continued to chew and read the newspaper, pretending (I am sure) not to notice how busy I was, even though I was directly across from him, my glare surely boring hot holes through his thick skull.
“How would you like your eggs prepared?” I asked sweetly a few minutes later, smugly pleased that I was generously offering him a choice.
“I’m not hungry” he stated, as he kept on reading.
At this point, I sort of had a mini meltdown. I demanded that he join us so that we could all be one happy family and enjoy my damn smorgasbord. I may have sort of implied he might as well be cheating on me with Ms. Jif.
After an exchange of a few choice words he disappeared, leaving me alone with an aborted meal (the boys were still in bed at 11am, being teenagers, and did not actually wake up for 3 more hours, at which point my husband was hungry again, but all this is beside the point).
As I sat there alone, absentmindedly eating one cold heart attack inducing stick of meat after another, I wondered why it was so important to me to feed them all, and for them enjoy my meal together. And why was it apparently not important in the least to my husband? I glumly sifted through my email, my best laid plans gone astray.
In my Inbox were emails from two friends (both svelte) who had politely rejected a chain email I had forwarded imploring them to send one lousy recipe to a single person on a two line list, and then to forward said email to 10 other friends. Their excuse? They didn’t know ten friends who could or would do it. Really?! I had a hard time choosing who I could not send it to.
Pondering the emails and the events of the morning, I vaguely recalled an article published earlier this year about the surprising effects on weight and happiness found in a study of social networks. I pulled up the article, and suddenly my feelings seemed utterly understandable. According to the study, we are programmed to seek out others like ourselves, and their behaviors, likes and dislikes mirror our own, and vice versa.
Being Slovak, obviously my urge to prepare food and eat with friends and family was deeply imbedded in my genetic code. The devil didn’t make me do it (as my husband surely thought); my DNA did. Anyone who knows Slovaks knows their lives are centered around food, whether growing it, preparing it, eating it and especially talking about it. To Slovaks, the genetic formula for life is simply: Food + family/friends +(optional, but strongly recommended, alcohol) = love and happiness.
To a Slovak, the best things in life may not be free, but they certainly don’t cost much. A gathering of friends sharing a spread of lovingly prepared food and a few bottles of wine and you have the makings for a perfect evening. In hindsight, it might have been better to have married a Slovak instead of a Dutch/German/Brit mix in whom the food gene was recessive. But the groundbreaking social network study had not yet been conducted when I blindly married him in 1988.
With respect to my two thin friends who appear to lack the friendship of good hearty Slovaks, I have decided to lend them mine. I encourage each of you to write a comment below with a simple recipe that apparently they could not receive otherwise. Not only will we share our love for food and friendship and thus expose them to our happiness, we may also fatten them up a bit.
‘Tis the season, after all.