Pizza! Watermelon! Ice Cream!.....and some homemade cookies

Pizza! Watermelon! Ice Cream!.....and some homemade cookies

Here I am again, just when I think I’ve gotten a handle on life it goes and sucker punches the air right out of everything I know. I had just been coming to terms with the loss of my father last year when suddenly and without warning my partner, my friend, my love, my life and the SO of the last thirteen years I often referred to in so, so many of my posts, suddenly passed away, ripping an irreparable hole in my life and my heart. Leaving me in a state of disbelief and numbness I still cannot comprehend. One day I am celebrating at my niece’s wedding, the next I am finding my partner. That is life and death in a nutshell. Extreme highs and lows and never knowing what is coming next.

It’s been social media silence for me since then as I alternate between random bouts of crying, glasses of wine, anger, sadness and everything else while trying to find my balance as work and life goes on around me. I think to myself, yikes, it’s been nearly six months already. Time goes so quickly and then it doesn’t. So close and yet seemingly far away all at the same time. And while it is getting a little better, there are those nights of sleeplessness, where I don’t really want the day to end as it means another one has passed since he’s been gone and there is nothing I can do to stop it or the crushing hollowness I feel from the loss, inside and out. It feels like I’m in some surreal Black Mirror type life where everything is feels a little bit off but the twist is it isn’t a dream I will wake up from but how things really are.

Like most couples, we had plans and goals—holiday trips, trying to figure out the next county to visit, a return to Burning Man—you know, the future. But this was never part of the plan. Then again, death never really is. And that is the whole conceit of life, it doesn’t always go as you expect, no matter how hard you try to control it.

The idea of getting back to blogging and food has been unappealing at best and a tiring emotional slog at worst. Just getting to the point where I can even do this post has been a challenge to say the least. I have started and stopped so many times over the last few months as I try to answer the question, what is the point?

To say I’m still an emotional mess is an understatement for sure. I’ve heard numerous times, from those trying to be empathetic, that I have to let myself go through the “stages of grief,” something I’m sure everyone has heard about before. I know I have as I lived through those turbulent plague times of the 80’s and early 90’s where friends dropped like flies and it was all we could do to keep ourselves together. But what they don’t tell you is sometimes you you experience the stages in order, sometimes they happen all in a day, sometimes they repeat themselves from one hour to the next and sometime they all come crashing through you at the same time causing a whirlpool of emotional and, occasionally, physical pain.

So here I am with a full head of what now and again using writing to try and “work things out.” Some of you may be wondering what this may have to do with food and in the case of me and Scott, pretty much everything. He was the one who was the original impetus for doing a food blog. Something born out of me looking for focus after my mother passed eight years ago (coming full circle I guess). He was also the one who got me to go to Burning Man and had the idea I should do my own little food tour of the camps that were gifting it and then write about. It was a way to ease me into an event I wasn’t totally sure I was gonna like are really be into. I mean, a week in the desert? Heat? Sun? Dust? Sand? Ugh, I don’t know how many more things I could dislike about it. But experiencing it with him particularly made it palatable and downright fun. So much so, I even went back!

Like many couples, a lot of our life centered around food. You know, the regular things like what’s for dinner? Where we gonna eat? Wanna get some take out? Hey! Let’s try that new restaurant! So why not write about what we were eating as some type of creative outlet? And here I am. Between the two of us we have pretty much eaten anything and everything that could be eaten. A lot of times our tastes varied wildly and sometimes he could look past some set backs in food if the ambiance and service were created a pleasing atmosphere. Me, while I can appreciate decor, esthetics and service, usually, I just wanted something tasty. Of course the biggest difference in our eating was I had to be in the mood for something whilst he could find something on any menu anywhere. A picky eater and a this will do eater. I guess opposites do attract.

For this post I figured I would write an homage to Scott and his unending joy and love of food and a focus on his three favorite food groups—pizza, watermelon and ice cream. Seriously, I kid you not, if you was stranded on a desert island, these are the three he would choose. It became sort of running gag between us and treats I would get him for his birthdays. And trust me, it there would have been a way to tastefully combine all three into one dish, he would have loved every bite of it.

But hey, who doesn’t love pizza! Really, who doesn’t? It has all the things that make food great—complex bread carbs, meat, veggies, cheese, sometimes greasy, always filling and quite easily accessible and quickly delivered. When we first met he seemed to be a fan of the Ragin’ Rooster from Extreme Pizza.

Ragin’ Rooster pizza from Extreme Pizza

Ragin’ Rooster pizza from Extreme Pizza

Sure, a decent and interesting mix of chicken and bbq sauce, but to be honest, I think he liked Extreme because they were only a few blocks from the apartment and delivery was truly in 30 minutes or less. Over the years I like to think I got him to expand his pizza horizons with jaunts to Paxti’s, Little Star (one of our early dates), Del Popolo (because food truck!) just to name a few. As for delivery, we went through a bunch of ok-ish and duds places before we landed on what became a fave of us both—Himalayan Pizza and Momo.

Himalayan Pizza

Himalayan Pizza

Granted, we were both dubious, then we had our first bite of the tandoori chicken, the tikka masala sauce, the red onion and all that cheese! It truly was a yum experience and became our go to Saturday night order in pizza for our own version of rent a movie on iTunes and chill with a bottle of wine night. The fact you could also get vegetable pakoras and momos from the was just a bonus appetizer to the pizza. I’ve said before, when pizza is good it’s really good and when it’s bad, eh, it is still pretty good. Even this place he like well enough. For Scott, he never met a pizza he didn’t like—EVER!

The watermelon fascination I’m not really sure I know where that came from, but if I got some, he ate, all of it. I think it was one of those things where it is sweet but still a fruit so he felt he was at least getting some nutrients or something. Plus, with all the water and fiber, it was very, um, cleansing. Of course, his only gripe with watermelon was the mess of both cutting it up and cleaning up. That and the whole it’s kind of a seasonal fruit thingy meant we really only had it sporadically around the apartment, but when we did, he relished every bite. It did help quite a bit when Safeway started catering to the lazy in us all by offering up these charming little pre-cubes:

cubed watermelon from Safeway

cubed watermelon from Safeway

When in season you can get a container of just watermelon. Otherwise sometimes you’d get a piece or two in a mixed melon bowl. Either way, it made it all the more easily accessible and sweet treat I could pick up for him I know he would totally enjoy.

But when it came right down to it, of the three, his most favoritist of favorites was ice cream. Like pizza, he never tasted an ice cream he didn’t like—EVER! Even for his birthdays it was ice cream cakes all the way. And I mean one made totally from ice cream with no actual cake. Just layers and layers of smooth creamy ice cream. Now anyone who has frequently read my blog knows I am not the biggest fan of ice cream. I need a more hearty and filling dessert and ice cream just didn’t do it for me. But for him, it was the be all end all.

that first lick

that first lick

I mean look at that expression people. It’s the unmitigated and childlike joy of an anticipatory first bite, or in this case, lick. It was a youthful enthusiasm for the creamy soft delight that even in that torrential down pour, all that mattered was eating the ice cream. Lightening and hail be damned! I want my full two scoops (and then some) in a giant waffle cone. Of course, it isn’t really the healthiest of things to eat. And yes, neither is pizza or too much watermelon for that matter. Thus, I did try to turn him onto something a little less full of fat and sugar when I stumbled across these:

Halo Top ice cream

Halo Top ice cream

Yep, I’m talking ‘bout Halo Top ice cream where the most involved pint has 360 calories total. Fortunately, they also have an array of flavors and knew I could get him interested in at least one of them right? That is a rhetorical question, because duh, anyone with chocolate, mint, mocha turned out to be winners for him and his tastebuds. And yes, we tried every flavor they had, including new ones they introduced. Always on the look out for something tasty. And while he did eat them a pint (or two) at a time, at least it wasn’t a gallon of sugar and cream. It is the small things we convince ourselves of when snacking and guilt eating, but we get over it quickly. Still, without a doubt, if he had to pick just one food, it was gonna be ice cream.

And while not part of his triumvirate of food enjoyments, last year during a spate of unemployment he he also found himself getting into baking, specifically cookies. I think the reason he seemed to take to it so well is because of the exactness of recipe you usually need when baking. It was all very science like, something he gravitated towards. He even perfected a super easy recipe for some rosemary honey shortbread cookies.

rosemary shortbread with a touch of honey

rosemary shortbread with a touch of honey

He got into it so much he decided to go full on social media with his creations on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’d like to think I inspired him to go all social media in they way he originally inspired me to start my own food adventure.

The baking even melded into cooking up cakes loaded with frosting for my birthday like these:

rainbow birthday cake

rainbow birthday cake

red velvet cake

red velvet cake

He had tastes that were both sophisticated and everyday snacky and enjoyed all to fullest. As I said before, there really wasn’t a food he wouldn’t try or something about what he at he couldn’t find to enjoy. Except fruit and chocolate for some strange reason. I never seemed to get to the root of his distaste for that combo. He liked them separately but together, just no. It is our peculiarities that make us who we are and it is just one of the many things I will never forget about him and all the times we ate and shared our food experiences. From Texas to New York to Egypt to China to New Zealand and back again we relished to opportunity to try something new and he did his part to push me out of my comfort zone. Though I just could never get on board with sushi, that was my version of fruit and chocolate. It is these memories of food and trips and the ordinary of the everyday I’ve clung to and wallowed in the past few months. Yes, I’m still kind of a mess, but it’s a process, or at least that is what everyone keeps telling me.

To say this has affected me and my relationship to food would be an understatement. The first few months I really couldn’t taste anything and barely ate. While my eating habits have gotten marginally better, I can’t say my taste and enjoyment of food has fully returned in anyway. These days I sort of find myself hedging toward the super spicy or overly sweet just to try and invigorate tastebuds which seem to have hibernated to a degree. The results are mixed at best.

With all that said, where does it leave me and this food blog? To be honest, I don’t know. So many things currently are still up in the air including but not limited to the fact I currently find it difficult to actually enjoy things without some kind of “survivor’s guilt” or something and the very real scenario I may not be able to even stay in San Francisco. We all know this place is super expensive and two people and can kind of get by but one flying solo can be a real challenge. Something I don’t know if I’m up for at this point in my life.

Where would I go, what would I do are valid questions I’m currently asking myself and have no answers for. While some type of divine intervention or sign would be nice, I’m not really counting on that. This isn’t the movies, it is real life and I’ll need to solve my current existential what now crisis in some other way. Till such a time as some clarity comes into my life, most likely, beyond this current post (which truly I have been writing on and off for a couple months now) I will continue to take a break as I try and figure out what is next. Who knows, I may find the occasional inspiration for some post on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook but, you know, social media can be quite exhausting to keep up with and I’m already mentally and physically tired as it is, so we will see.

Till then, I will keep on the best I can and see where it all leads me. I know I will never be the same again, but hold out hope I may reach some kind of new normalcy where the memories don’t automatically bring tears of sadness but thoughts of joy for what we had and who we were as a couple.

Pushkin...underground Russian eats

Pushkin...underground Russian eats