Monday, August 29, 2005

Freud and the Food Network

“What do women want?” Charlie asks me on the phone through a mouthful of shrimp Po-boy.

His question is a cliché, so why do I feel compelled to answer him? It must be his tone—it’s equal parts sweetness, anxiety and curiosity. (Then again, maybe it’s his charming Birmingham accent—when he talks it’s all vowels and minted iced tea). The boy needs something.

I’m a little disappointed that I respond with such standard fare as, “We want a lot of things—everything, really. Love, friendship, intelligent conversation, café au lait and brioche in bed, diamonds on every major federal holiday and anniversary…”

I hang up.

I drool over Adrien Grenier in “Entourage.”

I have the one glass of wine allotted to me during my ten days of antibiotics.

I switch the channel to Emeril Lagasse on the ‘Food Network.’

I start to cry.

Are steak au poivre and shoes string potatoes really that moving? No, of course not. But, he’s so damned patient deglazing the pan…adding Dijon mustard… pouring the most delicate touch of cream. His spoon patiently circles the sautee pan… Is something sticking to the copper bottom? Emeril’s brow furrows, the nose quivers, the eyes grow concerned, the big mouth turns downward and hopes that everything will go smoothly.

I need Emeril. Emeril would tend to me, take care of me, protect me.Forever.

PROTECTION, SECURITY—this is the stripped-down answer (or, some version, thereof) of every woman North or South of the Mason-Dixon, East or West of the Mississippi. Freud, this is what women want.

I’ve watched the Food Network more this past week while being sick (with no appetite) than I have in my entire life. I go to the website. I think of ways to be a phone-in guest on “Sarah’s Secrets.” Really, though, I only pay attention when the hosts are male. Somehow, they’re caring for me. They’re gentle. Their kitchens are warm.

I’ll go to bed a little happier tonight—feeling a bit more safe--because Emeril taught us how to make challah. He kneaded the dough like I need someone to massage my aching back. He draped a dry, warm cloth over the yeasty mass so it would grow. He told us all that patience and a little love would make everything turn out beautifully.

Charlie? Are you reading? This is my answer. This is what I should have told you on the phone.

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