My husband the connoisseur

Alright, this isn’t fiction, so perhaps it doesn’t fit where I’ve placed it.  I wanted to share, though.

     Eating with my husband is fascinating.  Watching him eat is like witnessing an artist at his craft.  James and I never dated before getting married.  We hadn’t even been out together aside from roommate-trips to Wal-mart or with friends on late night snack runs.  What little I knew of his eating habits came from observing him in our little kitchen working with limited supplies and vague recollections of side comments from his ex-girlfriend before they split up. (She and I had been friends before I knew him, but that’s another story and not as bad as one might assume.)  James and I go on outings now specifically to spend time together; we call them drawing dates.  We take sketchbooks and various art supplies and go hunting for some place to hunker down for a few hours.  We inevitably end up in restaurants or cafes, anywhere that doesn’t mind how long we stay provided we make the token purchase.  Whataburger is a favorite of ours.  They seem to like having us there and they’re open 24 hours besides.  He gets the same burger, dry, no onions, heavy pickles every time.  It doesn’t seem to diminish his experience with the food, though.  There’s always something new for him to note about each burger.  I might notice if my food is sweet or spicy.  He could probably tell why it’s spicy, what kind of spicy, and the age and drinking habits of the cook to boot.  I see yellow where James sees sunshine, butter cream and daffodil.  I enjoy my food, but it all ends too quickly for me and without much fuss.  He can sit there for an hour with his burger and talk about the texture, the moisture left in the meat after it cooked, whether the lettuce tastes fresh and if the pickles are as sour as he likes or cut as thick as he likes.  He’ll talk about the scent not telling nearly as much about how the fries are seasoned as the taste.  On occasion this leads into a discussion in which we compare the ketchups at different fast food places.  (There’s more vinegar in Whataburger ketchup than ketchup from Burger King, he says, though I can’t taste it.)  He explained his relationship with food to me once by referencing the scene in “Ratatouille” where the main rat is trying to walk his brother through experiencing the food and colors burst on the screen with each piece of food they talk about.  I sometimes feel like the blind having the scenery described for me in terms I have little reference for when he talks, but I love him for it, anyway.  I tease him about taking so long to eat and being sensitive to his food, but really I’m a little bit jealous.  It’s amazing to me that every bite is a whole conversation between just him and his meal in which it tells him all there is to know about it.  He always shares with me what it has to say to him.  He complains that the English language doesn’t have enough ways to describe the sensations that come with food, though.  I think there’s more to it than that.  I think there’s more than he can really express even with words.  I try to glean what I can from the faces he makes while eating, but I think he makes them often just for my benefit.    It’s fun to listen to him try to differentiate between the kinds of sweet when all he has is the word “sweet” and various foods to refer to.  I try to help by stealing descriptors for other sensations, but the descriptions start to feel obtuse.  We grumble habitually about there not being any indoor, foodless places that we know of to spend indefinite amounts of time, but the truth is I don’t mind.  Maybe it sometimes feels less like a date because eating is a practical, everyday task.  However, to me, even if it sometimes feels that way, I like to see that side of him where I get all the details of what he thinks and how he feels about something.  It’s basic, but it’s still nice that we can share happily about something so simple in that way.  Calling it a date when we go out somehow feels like some small, sweet private joke, anyway.  We got to know each other without all that.  We’re special that way.


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