Food, fiction, and friendship

There are a few things that I really enjoy in life. I enjoy stories, a lot. I like them told in books, novels, short stories, magazine articles, blogs, songs, or even the occasional poems. I like stories that are unwritten just as much as the recorded ones like the tales friends tell you after weeks, months, and years without seeing them. I love the stories they tell of your old times together because along the way and through the years that pass, the stories change a little as the perceptions of the person change too and it’s totally natural. To me, every experience retold is fiction because nothing that happens really happens the same way to all those that are around.

***

I met two old friends this past week after more than three years of not being together in the same place and time. We spent the week in over three different cities across two different countries and fell back into the same groove we have always had. It is funny how time can really stay the same even when it has changed each one of us individually so differently. We sat in London and Amsterdam and reminisced. We each told stories about the insane adventures, youthful inhibitions, and daring things we did in our twenties in foreign lands where we were just strangers passing through. But although the stories were the same to each of us in where and how they occurred, they never exactly matched the stories we had stored individually in our memory places. Interpretation, experience, growth, and perception, I guess. It is kind of like aging. In the time since we last hung out together, there has been loss hair, gained weight, and a few tiny wrinkles growing up into their rightful place, but the person still remains a true image of their former selves, which is just like the stories that get told.

In these recent encounters with my good old friends, there is always an element present (yes, beer and boozing, of course), but also food.

“Ohhh, remember that kebab we had in Amsterdam for four straight days that I swore was the best I ever had!”

“Remember that salami, pepperoni, and mozzarella sandwich at the bottom of Haebongchon, Seoul that we went to after waking up hung over as hell and I zoned out for a few minutes as the delicious colours in my mouth caused momentary delirium?”

“Remember the ten empty Pizza School pizza boxes we found hidden under Mike’s bed that one time in Noksapyeong after he let us crash in his room?”

“Remember that all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant on Queen Street in downtown Toronto last year where we walked for blocks on end in the freezing winter cold only to find it closed and our hearts medium broken?”

So I enjoy stories and the art of storytelling whether it is through the works of literary geniuses or between mouthfuls of steak from drunken friends on patios outside the Red Light District in Amsterdam.

I enjoy stories and food. I enjoy how stories and food create friendships.

***

So, I have realized that food is the basis for relationships. A way that binds us all and connects us since we all need food. It categorizes us too. If I were a vegan I bet I would have more vegan friends, but I have friends that like the same food as I do, drink as much I do, and enjoy the same activities. I have friends that I only ever meet up with when we have a mutual craving that just needs to be satiated as we are unable to think, do, or act responsibly until that desired food is devoured.

I went on a date with this dude in university that looked like Kevin Federline (I know…) who was a construction worker outside my apartment. Our first date was at a pub in downtown Ottawa where we ordered two burgers. Before I started on mine he had literally devoured his in a few bites. There was no way I could enjoy my food now or the company it kept. There was just me eating and him sitting there. That burger was the timeline for our connection and in three bites he had squabbled it. We went out a second time (I know…) with a group of my friends to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant. He had never had it. He took one bite and shook his head. I tried to order him chicken bits since sushi restaurants have an assortment of other edible shit but he wouldn’t touch it because he didn’t like “small bones” in his meat. At that moment, he not only ruined the outing for me, but my friends as well because one cannot enjoy themselves knowing those around them aren’t feeling the same. Food was a way to make friends that night and he squandered it.

I kept thinking to myself: for all the days left in your life and all the meals in those days, this is just one of them. It is not even the only meal of the day. Why make such a big deal? Why not just suck it up and eat it. Tomorrow, or even later tonight, you can eat whatever you want.

I guess I have been trying to live my life by that concept.

“In a course of a lifetime, what does it matter?”

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