It’s 10:30am on a cloudy Sunday morning. I’ve just been out to breakfast with an old college friend and her boyfriend, except all I ordered was a hot herbal tea which cost too much, in which I add too much honey. I say goodbye to my friends and it hits me that I’m hungry. It’s the kind of hunger that prevents you from wanting to do anything else, so the next thing I know I’m at the Seward Coop checking out with a box of brown rice california rolls. Perhaps it was that last night’s Lyft driver had also been a sushi chef, but waffles and eggs were not going to cut it for me this morning.
I find a near empty check out line, but at the last minute decide to swerve back to get a cup of coffee, even though, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that coffee makes me crazy or gives me a headache. Usually both. Back at the check out line, a middle-age man with Bose headphones is buying two boxes of oysters (natural of course at the coop). I feel a sense of affinity with this man. Perhaps it’s our similar tastes in what we want our Sunday brunch to look like, but I decide to ask him how he likes to eat his oysters. He says that he likes to get some bread, not Great Harvest but Breadsmith, pull out the soft middle and dip it in the oil.
“Oysters” he says “are love.” His mom used to feed them to him.
I ask him how often he eats them.
“These days once or twice a week” he says in a way that makes me think that, at one time, it could have been more frequently.
“Do you have anything like that for you?”
I think about that question for a moment. Food has meant lots of things to me besides just being food, but nothing quite comparable comes to mind. “I don’t think so.”
The man hands a paper bag back to the cashier. “Thanks for asking about it,” he says. He seems to genuinely mean it. “Thanks for sharing.” I feel a little buoyant.
The cashier has been quiet up until this point, but once the man walks a way, she says to me. “You know, sometimes I buy sardines and I chop them up, mix them into mashed potatoes with some raw egg, and make fishcakes. I had found a recipe for cod cakes, but this was easier.”
“That’s a great idea,” I tell her noticing her Pink Floyd t-shirt. “I like sardines but sometimes they’re a bit much.”
“Yeah, the mashed potato really helps.”
She offers me the same paper bag, but I decline it too, skipping out of the coop with sushi and coffee in hand.
“Thanks so much for asking.” The man’s voice reverberates in my head. The day seemed a bit brighter.