But what is intimacy if not used to politely express the fact that we went decidedly beyond third base? What is intimacy removed from the construct of the bedroom and an “intimate relationship”? Aren’t all relationships intimate? Isn’t something connecting and relating directly to you by its very nature intimate? And even then, I mean, if our slightly limited definition revolves around something going inside you-- shouldn’t food fit the bill?
Food, it seems, exists in a state of hyper-intimate and non-intimacy. On the one hand, food has been over-manufactured to the point of complete and utter taste ecstasy. On the other hand, it’s sterile, packaged and no longer alive. It’s become a product, not a force. It’s devoid of the very factors that make our relationship with it deliciously intimate: community, connection, and creation.
Meals have become solitary, snuck in as moments admist the reality of our actual lives. Food comes to us a travel-worn character, far removed from its original home and state. Our meals lack the magic of creation and the delight of cooking.
Food only exists on the physical plane. We consume it and then leave it. It’s like no-strings attached. Not the kind that is fun and playful and undefined. The kind that satisfies a need. The kind that doesn’t satisfy anything. The kind that seeks out intimacy but never leaves you satiated because the intimacy wasn’t there in the first place because intimacy can’t be found purely in the physical. Intimacy demands the emotional. Intimacy demands connection, vulnerability and presence.
We can’t compartmentalize intimacy. We can’t save it for only the relationships in our lives we feel are safe enough to validate the risk. Because intimacy is a risk. It opens us up to the possibility of being stomped on hard. It also opens us up to the awareness of our bodies and entitties we’ve been trained one way or another to ignore. Hungry: too bad. Bloated: take an antacid. Exhausted: keep pushing.
No wonder food is no longer intimate. We are no longer intimate with ourselves. And no wonder connection with another human is foreign and unwieldy-- we have trained ourselves away from connection. We sit down to a meal and disconnect again, and again, and again. We become rote disconnectors - with our food, with ourselves and with our partners.
Chronic lack of intimacy erodes the self. We become porous and insubstantial. But we are not broken. We are still there, still desiring and deserving of connection. we simply need to retrain it.
Our lives are full of relationships. We can start with any of them in order to reconstruct our capacity for intimacy. But why not start with food? We sit down to it every day, three times a day. And food is delicious. Not through manufacturing, but through nature, and through life.
Food is interesting. It is nourishing. And intimate. Or it can be.
Treat food like you would a lover.
Embrace the beauty of foreplay. Cooking is foreplay; lighting a candle is foreplay; plating on fantastically girlie plates sourced from Anthropologie is foreplay, and foreplay, foreplay is marvelous. Foreplay elevates any encounter beyond the physical. It requires intention. It requires an acknowledgment of your partner. And it requires a continuous give-and-take of receiving pleasure.
We desperately need to relish in the act of eating; otherwise it will fall flat. It won’t satiate us. It won’t nourish us. It won’t feed us. Not truly.
Just like any relationship, and like any lover, food can’t be everything. It can’t be the only place we find pleasure. It can’t be the only thing that feeds us. But if we don’t take the opportunity there everyday when we sit down to that plate - to practice pleasure, to initiate intimacy- then we will starve.
Our relationship with food doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it will never ever be perfect. But if it is conscious, if it is intentional, and if it is intimate, we will be just fine. In fact, we will thrive.
By: Maddie Berky
Maddie is a writer, blogger, storyteller & holistic nutritionist. She is not a purveyor of answers, but an asker of questions. And she seeks not to construct the most perfect plate, but rather uncover the human siting down to that plate who is worthy and nourished and alive. Our relationship with food creates this beautiful opportunity to explore who we are and train who we want to become. It asks us to engage with these multifaceted drives of hunger and nourishment and pleasure. Can we receive? Can we trust ourselves? Can we connect - to our plate, to our body, to our partner? It is the answer to those questions that not only affects what is on our plate, but more importantly, the space we take up in this world.
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