The food scene in Gwendom can be very grim. Positive Alicia would tell you it’s back to the basics, taste of your childhood-style comfort food. Real me says it’s grim.
Today, Gwen’s Sloppy Joe’s made me cry.
There is no truly good Sloppy Joe. But there are Sloppy Joes that taste good, namely, the one your mom or dad makes you, or one you make yourself after a long day when you just really, really want a sandwich full of loose cheap meat covered in a combination of starchy, sugary reddish sauces, none of them good for you. That Sloppy Joe won’t be good, but it will be exactly what you want — so to you, it will be great.
Gwen’s Sloppy Seconds Joe’s are none of these iterations. They are full of guilt and presumption. They are sandwiches made even after discussing how nobody planned to be home for dinner, left on the stove in a hateful little pile of misplaced love.
They are sandwiches that made me cry. They reminded me that even though I’d gone to the store and made plans for a healthy, easy stir-fry dinner that would provide me with two days of lunches, I do not have a kitchen. I do not have Tupperware. I do not even have a proper knife. I do not have control over this part of my life.
This part of my life, the cooking part, has always been important to me. I’ve always cited it as something I do to relieve stress. I’ve never truly believed that, though. I thought it was something I should say to make me feel less like just another foodie-wannabe millennial. Sometimes it made me feel better about placing myself in a traditionally gender-defined role. Other times I would use it as a polite way to say, “Stay the hell out of my kitchen.”
But you know what? It’s true. Cooking relieves my stress. My kitchen is a safe haven. When I’m in the kitchen, I can’t reply to emails. I can’t think too hard about what I said wrong or how I should have done something better. I chop, I mince, I saute, I taste, I control and I produce something delicious, something that brings me joy to eat and joy to share. And nothing reduces stress better than sharing joy.
I suppose Gwen was trying to do the same thing for us. She shows love by providing food for people, albeit of questionable quality and sometimes even safety (Next episode of Living in Gwendom: One Week of The Turkey In The Cooler on The Porch). My husband’s family is not big on affection or words of affirmation. The first time I told Gwen, “Bye, love you,” you’d have thought I’d done so stark naked in a headstand. But she can shop and set out plates and prepare a meal. I can be better at accepting her offerings.
Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.