We just this minute got home from the annual UU Church Christmas Party/All Church Circle Supper. If you know UU, you know that there are monthly circle suppers, where small groups meet for dinner and conversation. These are wonderful. The Christmas party, where everyone gathers in a fabulous house (with an indoor swimming pool that, this time of year, is festooned with twinkly lights and lined with all the plants that thrive on a warm, humid environment), is truly a joy. And every year I find myself sitting in the same room--the library--in the same chair, next to David, listening to him talk about food.
Now, y'all know I care next to nothing about food. I like my food to be very simple and limited to, oh, the handful of things that do not disgust me. I don't cook. I don't own cookbooks. I don't read recipes. I don't watch cooking shows. In short, I don't give a rat's ass about most foods and cannot imagine spending any time talking about food.
But wait. Listening to David talk about food is like listening to Leonardo talk about painting. Like listening to Pavarotti talk about opera. It's listening to someone talk about their passion, and I could sit there for hours, entranced. Tonight he brought a bunch of stuff, and among the things he cooked were these cookies. Spice cookies, which normally I would not eat. I do not like spice cookies. But: if David cooks it, I will try it. Anything except meat.
So I tried one of these cookies. I had a little red wine left in my glass--some cheap OK wine--and I drank a little, absent mindedly--normally I would not mix wine with something sweet. And omigod! It was fabulous! The cookies, which included Chinese Five-Spice Powder, went so perfectly with the wine that I went around to everyone else, urging them to try it just so I could watch their faces as they mixed a sip of wine with the cookie in their mouths. We could have started a riot right there.
But mostly we sat and listened to David talk about cooking. David is a complete omnivore. There is no food that makes him scowl. He waxes equally rhapsodic about bacon and New Orleans oyster po' boys and 45-ingredient chocolate cake from the Hill Country. It doesn't matter: it's food, and it's fabulous. He's not stuffy about it, like some people who fancy themselves gourmet chefs who cook only Gourmet Recipes get all snobby about it and look down their nose at you if you eat macaroni and cheese. He's as happy talking about deep-fried ice cream as he is talking about caviar. And it's not that he's obsessed with food--he's not fat. He just loves the whole process of taking raw ingredients and making edible works of art and then serving them to people and talking about it.
And listening to him talk about it is pure joy. He's about our age, maybe a little older--it's not like this is something he discovered last week. His wife told me that, with him, this is a true passion. And you can tell. Sitting and listening to him talk about food makes you high, like you've had a hit of some euphoria-inducing drug. You've felt that if you've ever listened to someone who's truly in love with something--food, painting, clay, words. Whatever. It's like you should pay for the joy of listening to them talk about it, and then some of their happiness about the whole thing rubs off on you. Never mind that you hate paint or don't understand clay. It's their love of it that gives you that buzz.
So tonight I'm happy about food. I may not like to eat much of it, but I love hearing about it from someone who appreciates every nuance, every possibility. As we walked to our cars, he and his wife were talking about what he might offer for the annual UU auction in February, where he always auctions something like a 5-course dinner with wines. And where we are the first two to sign up, not even paying attention to the menu. He could serve nothing but Pork Products, and I'd pay to go and listen to him talk about the process of preparing pork loins and be happy (albeit a little hungry, 'cause you know I wouldn't be actually eating any of them). It's that wonderful.
May you all be blessed with a conversation with someone who cares as much about what they love as David cares about preparing food. A joy, indeed.