The food of love
This is a collaborative piece.
Art: Simrat Cheema
Text: Shreya Adhikari
The First Date:
Order something easy, simple to eat. Something you can cut into with one go-
Take that extra glass of wine to calm your nerves.
Take small bites and make sure to not make noise while you chew.
“What do you want to order?”
We are in a fancy, candle-filled restaurant.
Strains of an old song—one I can’t recollect
—is a background hum,
just faint enough for me to hear the clinks of
forks and knives
against many tables of plates.
“So…have you decided?”
“Steak, I’ll have a steak.”
“How do you want it prepared, ma’am?”
“Medium, I suppose. On the rare side, though.”
As the waiter disappears and re-appears
with our order, we try
in the gaps
with conversation that seemed easy through our phones.
I try not to chug down the wine and instead
The steak arrives, easing our conversation
red, searing, and dancing a static dance with the steam it met, just a brief while ago—
a perfect buffer between us.
One layer of simplicity.
A little difficult to cut into—
But cut deep enough, and you can see
almost hugging your tongue
as you chew
down on that perfect bite.
The method’s a little difficult:
One minute too long/one minute under?
That perfect bite will have to be the last.
First dates: awkward conversations, alcohol induced laughter, perfect meal and a goodnight kiss.
In a Relationship, 7 months:
Order what you want to eat. They should think you’re beautiful
even with pizza sauce stains on your t-shirt.
Beer probably goes with everything
Do not burp. Do not.
The doorbell, and
“Here you go! One piping hot peperoni pizza with extra cheese.”
You get the box and place it open on your living room table.
I grab the beers.
It’s immediate— your house now smells
of that favourite restaurant of yours, near your house.
The fizzy-pop-open of the beer
Is like a silent secret whisper against
The endless honking of Mumbai traffic below
your 16th floor apartment,
Your neighbors are still fighting:
I can hear the woman shouting at pitch levels that could frighten hyenas.
It’s an odd mix.
Put it in a box and label it:
comfort, familiar, safe.
We settle into your sofa, me with my feet comfortably nestled on your lap.
and switching the TV on
to the channel that would be doing re-runs of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
I know I’ve bitten into too much, too soon.
I gulp down two mouthfuls of tangy-but-bitter beer
(Okay when fresh, insipid when normal)
to cool down my mouth, clear the steam in my head,
Making sure to keep it as quiet as possible.
You never know what you’re getting with one bite of pizza.
Is it just the topping, just the cheese?
Or the entire top layer that came off altogether?
7 months in: Familiarity and patterns. Habits. Is this really it?
The Break-Up, 1 year later:
Order the sweetest thing you can find on the menu. You deserve it.
Avoid the alcohol.
You’ve already finished two bottles of wine the night before.
I stare blankly at the stack of pancakes before me.
Topped with blues and reds and sprinkled with a snow white.
I’m alone at a breakfast diner.
I can feel the hum of
Waiters walking around
The slow, but forced-busyness of a morning,
A muted din of jumbled up activity—incoherent.
You hated pancakes, and you
never understood my appetite for them
Much like everything else.
I shake out of my stupor, to attack the stack,
cutting through each layer with clinical precision,
the cold metal against the warmth, hitting finally
at the cheerfully colored ceramic plate.
Each bite fills me up, makes me heady and
I devour each bite with a gusto I haven’t felt in the past year.
More and more
I slurp on the excess
As I suck on the last blueberry,
my tongue trying to investigate if it has any sweetness left,
my favorite Beyonce song comes pulsating through invisible speakers,
Loud enough to drown the din of everything out.
The Break-Up: Licking your wounds, deliciously, with a little help from...well what’s your favourite food?
Shreya Adhikari is powered by caffeine, good music and Netflix.
Simrat Cheema is 19 year old self-taught artist, based out of Chandigarh. She loves art and admires the work of Tjalf Spaarnay, a Dutch (mega realistic) artist, who brings food to life through art. "There is no formula to art and the beauty of it is that it never lies; 'Kun-faya-kun', it is what it is', she says. See more of her work here.