Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Well, I wanted to write about muffins today, but the muffins are not behaving. A little scuffle like that, with the clock ticking down on the time I have to cook and write today, is enough to make me question this whole enterprise. (I am easily led astray.)
The last time I felt this way, which was the day before yesterday, or maybe it was the time three days before that, I randomly opened a big book of M.F.K. Fisher's writing and found something wonderful.
So, maybe you will get muffins tomorrow. Today, you get M.F.K. Fisher instead.
People ask me: why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?...
The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...and it is all one.
I tell about myself, and how I ate bread on a lasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.
There is food in the bowl, and more often than not, because of what honesty I have, there is nourishment in the heart, to feed the wilder, more insistent hungers. We must eat. If, in the face of that dread fact, we can find other nourishment, and tolerance and compassion for it, we'll be no less full of human dignity.
There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?