I’m supposed to be doing a lot of things this afternoon — finishing up some work for an October first deadline, vacuuming the twins’ room while they’re out visiting their grandparents, at the very least cleaning off my desk and emptying the dishwasher … But with the house empty and quiet I started feeling very lazy. Maybe I was fighting off a cold. Certainly I was exhausted from last night’s fussy sleeping due to a restless twin who wailed pretty much every even hour. So instead of going to my desk I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of chicken noodle soup. I ladled it into a bowl-sized mug and took it to bed and there I slouched on a stack of pillows and started to read The Queen’s Lover by Francine du Plessix Gray (very enjoyable), sipping broth and occasionally pausing for a spoonful of noodles.
After about 50 pages I went again to the kitchen and this time returned with a cup of hot chocolate with a little cinnamon and the tiniest dash of cayenne pepper sprinkled in. More reading and more sipping ensued.
After another 20 or so pages I started to feel restored. I went to my desk, finished my work, sent it off in advance of its deadline, scrolled through Twitter for a bit and found a link to this Tin House Carte du Jour post: “Reading and Eating,” by Michelle Wildgen. This is my favorite sentence from the piece:
… a few years ago on a winter afternoon I re-read Jane Eyre for the tenth time while eating rice pudding and a tangerine, and it was one of the best damn moments of my life.
I don’t remember what I was eating the last time I read Jane Eyre (or any book that made an impression on me) but I immediately recognized the vital link between reading and eating in my life. I once stunned my Aikido instructor (a former Marine and fourth-degree black-belt) by unselfconsciously and rather blithely telling him that one of my favorite pastimes was to lie on my couch reading a book and eating from a bowl of popcorn balanced on my stomach. I love to read and eat! Not gluttonously — not the eating part, anyway — but deliciously.
Some wheat pretzel nubs simultaneously with a bit of chocolate. Papaya chunks with a bit of chocolate — or papaya chunks with blistered peanuts. Tiny nicoise olives roasted in the oven with some lemon and thyme. Thin slices of sharp cheddar on Wassa crackers with a side of pickled grapes. Gingersnaps with a cup of tea. Toasted barbari bread with a cup of tea. Pretty much anything with a cup of tea …
The next time I read Jane Eyre I’ll try it with a bowl of rice pudding and a tangerine. In the meantime, The Queen’s Lover will have to remain partnered with hot chocolate. And maybe some salted almonds too …
What do you like to eat while reading?