That's Sidney Smith over there -- English essayist, cleric and anti-establishment gadfly. He is supposed to have been one of the funniest conversationalists ever. He said once (not that this is a particularly brilliant bit) that his idea of heaven was eating foie gras to the sound of trumpets. I thought of Smith’s line the other day when my son Ed asked what one food I could eat forever. (I love having this kind of conversation with Ed – He is fond of asking questions that begin: If you had all the money in the world … or: If you had to lose one of your … or: If you had to choose between … )
Black licorice, I said. It was what I was eating at the time.
No, not really.
I swallowed. The idea of eating any one food forever sounds more like hell than heaven, but I knew what Ed was asking. A food I’d particularly miss, a food I liked enough to eat every day ….
Is coffee a food? I asked. Or red wine?
No, they’re drinks. Ed’s expression was momentarily concerned: poor old Dad, losing his mind.
I thought about bread and butter type foods – foods with staying power, not too fancy. Margery Allingham, one of my favorite classic mystery writers, differentiates between cake love and bread and butter love – cake love being that incredible over the top passionate kill yourself can’t get enough of the person love, as opposed to the bread and butter comfortable day by day smiling and growing together love. So, I thought, what food would fall into the bread and butter category for me?
Not bread and butter, which I don’t eat much of. Spaghetti? No. Roast beef ? Not at all. (Apparently the Duke of Wellington ate roast lamb every day. Can you imagine?) Oatmeal cookies? Cold cereal? Peppers and tomatoes? Szechuan chicken? Sausage? Hmm, maybe.
Then it came to me. Peanuts, I said. Or maybe peanut butter.
Ed nodded seriously. Yeah, not bad, he said.
What about you? I asked.
But at just that moment Imo called from upstairs. Dad, come quick – it’s an emergency!