Posted by: innerpilgrimage | June 19, 2010

The Sexiest Profession in the World

      Mr. Underwear model? Shove off. Mr. Fortune 100 CEO? Get out of the way, already! Mr. A-List Oscar-winning actor? Move it or lose it.

      The sexiest profession in the world to a food addict . . . is a chef.
      I have had the most ludicrous temporary crushes on Tony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, Emeril (he’s so cute, I just want to pinch his cheeks!), and one chef I don’t even remember. Oh, God, and do not get me started on the hotness that is Jacques Pepin. Put together a passionate man with the Escoffier principles, and forget about it. Stick a fork in me, because I am well past done.
      So, why am I all up about chefs this fine day, this day which I am going to go to a two-hour intergroup meeting to fulfill OA service with an extreme amount of reluctance (Dear HP, please inspire us all PLEASE focus on the actual MESSAGE of the 12th Tradition this month?!). My dear sister in compulsion, recoverydiscovery, ended up on a date with a cutie chef . . . one that’s resulting in a second date. And, hold your breath, fellow straight sisters in compulsion:

      He is cooking for her. Tonight.

      I cannot imagine anyone who binges not finding chefs hot. Even the goofy-looking ones. They’re passionate, usually funny, driven, and they push our drug of choice. And the ones with the full degree are like the guys who push the good stuff, the A-list stuff. They’re the guys we have that hope to find the perfect high from . . . the Ultimate Bite. Nirvana On a Spoon. The “I Can Die Happy Because This Perfect Bite Will Finally End My Cravings” Mouthful.

      I find it amusing that people in the business call the glossy cookbooks and the cooking shows (where the chef makes comfort food or something equally lovely then takes a bite and makes orgasmic faces while chewing) “Food Porn”. I completely understand. I have Four bookcases in my home, a wall-and-a-half of shelving space and boxes of books still packed. And one full 6-foot case is devoted completely to my cookbooks. Seriously. Nothing else goes on that bookcase but my cookbooks. From Escoffier to Pepin to Prevert to Colette’s Cakes and the Millenium cookbook to French Laundry and Esalen, several Moosewoods (Including Molly Katzen’s for-kid cookbooks, a must-have, even for grown ups) to the Joy of Cooking (Not the NEW one, the one my Grandmother had) and a 1970s used copy of the McCall Cookbook (most of the recipes are crap, but the pearls-and-pumps “Make your Man Happy” copy on the full-color insets is a riot). I am supposed to inherit the whole Time Life 1980s series on cooking from my mother when she dies, if we end up not-estranged and my older sister doesn’t abscond with it.
      I have hundred-year-old recipe books in my great-grandmother’s neat hand, my own grandmother’s rolodex of recipes (dubbed “The Holy Rolodex”), and my own “Chicken” cookbook (It has a chicken and a farmhouse on its cover), filled with recipes I and my mother personalized over the years. I’ve probably only used one of her recipes . . . I never really was a fan of her cooking. Especially her chopped chicken liver, which is as beautifully preserved a page as you can get in the book, which has crepe and pancake batter and frosting and coffee stains and red wine splashes and chocolate smudges on many of the other pages. I have hunted down recipes on the internet, mentally tasting them in my mind and discarding the ones I know would just turn out wrong.

      If you’re not staring at this in complete bewildered shock, or even if you are, I want to point out something completely and utterly and Austrian crystal clear, people: FOOD WAS MY HIGHER POWER UNTIL LAST OCTOBER.
      It still kicks my ass sometimes and leaves me running to hide under the covers. My compulsion is the Monster Under the Fridge. I can undereat, I can overeat. I hate my body thin and I hate my body fat. I even hate the whole package of me, sometimes. But my abstinence is the only thing saving me from drowning in misery all of the time. Abstinence is the reminder that I have to live in today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Abstinence is what made the despair over food go away, the need to chase down the next food high. I deserved that orgasmic bite like Miss Hottie Television Cooking Diva got! I wailed to the Fates. Why can’t I have that?!
      Because, just like a porn star, she was faking it to make it look good. After the twentieth take of the Orgasmo-Bite, I expect the foodie diva is vowing never to eat Tasty Comforting Entree ever again and spitting it out once the director has the shot. Craving something simple, like an apple. Or, God forbid, nothing because she’s eaten so much take after take that she wants to throw up.
      So, what do we do about our drug-of-choice pushers. Well, I’ll let you all in on a little secret I learned from a dear friend over the last 5 years:

      Chefs are artists, first.

      I was fortunate in 1989 to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which was a thrill because I have been an art nerd forever. As I roamed the halls in the modern art section, I was stopped by a sculpture I had only seen in small pictures in fine art books: one of Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space sculptures. I liked it in the picture, but when I saw the real thing, I was floored. I “got it”. The form defined the function, and, to me, it was the essence of a bird in flight. Despite being a fan of fine art, I generally passed through museums quickly, sampling the art like the food from San Francisco’s Miyako Hotel’s Sunday brunch.
      Bird in Space was my first real connection to an artist, and this is saying a lot, since there was a Picasso on the wall nearby that didn’t touch me as spiritually as this sculpture did.
      Normal eaters, I have learned in meeting, can go to a two-hundred-dollar-a-plate dinner and take from it an experience. They aren’t looking for the perfect bite. They are looking for the special experience. That can be baffling to a compulsive eater. But like I wasn’t looking for the perfect piece of art in that museum in 1989, they aren’t looking for the perfect bite like I did in when I was deep in compulsion. It was an experience, a spiritual moment.
      Now, I’m not talking about the guy following the machines in the back of the International-Chain Fast Food joint. I’m not even talking about the guy on the line at the dive steakhouse on the edge of town. I am talking about someone who spent two-plus years studying Baking and Pastry, Knife Handling, Kitchen Management, Wine-Pairing, and Presentation. The guy who researches Careme and Escoffier. The guy who has decided to become an ephemeral artist of the first degree. His art is meant to be temporary. It is meant to provide an experience. It is how he adds beauty to the world.
      And when we look at what he spent time creating, annoyed that it’s not enough food for how much we’re paying, that is like running into a museum and gang-tagging a Picasso. He has created art. And when we treat it like a downer cow burger from the drive-through? We kill a little bit of his spirit.
      He can’t make a perfect bite. There is no such thing as the perfect food high. However, to take the time to experience his art–both as performance artist and sculptor of food–is like walking to a gallery artist and buying a painting outright. It says you were moved spiritually by his dedication to his art, to his passion, to his enjoyment in making something so basic (eating) into a spiritual experience by using all of our senses, not just the taste buds at the back of our tongues as we shovel it in and plan to hit the drive-through on the way home.
      So, I guess that’s one way I keep abstinence, now. When given the opportunity, I will choose an experiential meal over a slopped one. And even if I end up at the local crossed-palms privately-held corporate burger joint to eat my single grilled cheese sandwich with all the veg (but not the sauce, I eat mustard on mine), I eat it to experience it. And I am not looking for the perfect high in every bite. I’m simply eating to live and enjoying how the combination of things I like can end up making something very enjoyable.

      My name is Jess, and I am a food-restricter and food addict (that’s anorexic and binge eater in fancy-pants terms). I am a writer, an artist of words (though most often I think they’re closer to finger paintings than Seurat’s Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte), who wants people to read what I write in hopes they will be touched by something I say, and their spiritual lives will change ever so slightly forever.
      And yes, the next time I am given the opportunity for a food experience, I won’t fear it. I have to eat food to sustain my body; I have to appreciate art to sustain my soul. And yes, the line still gets fuzzy between sex and food for me (and a lot of people, as evidenced by the many books available on the connection between food and its link to sensual gratification). But like I’m not going to run off to have a marathon weekend of sex with some random guy who happens to fit the phenotype I find aesthetic (even if he is a Master Chef!), I am not going to walk into a buffet restaurant or buy a pound of candy or cookies. My abstinence means I am privileged to live a spiritual life every minute of every day.
      Even with food.



  1. […] Granted, it’s been tumultuous.  But–as I put it last night when my hunky date (a chef!) was inquiring as to “what kind of eater I am” (sigh!)–my body and I are […]

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