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Kristin Armstrong Column May 2021

"What are you hungry for?"

In addition to nourishment, food can also provide comfort, communication, creative expression, fuel and a form of coping. We all have our thing—maybe it’s freshly baked cookies, or eating the dough before it ever gets to the oven. Maybe it’s homemade pasta sauce, simmered all day on the stove, with a side of crusty garlic bread for dipping. Certain foods make your whole house smell like love.

I remember packing kids’ lunches, drawing their names in bubble letters with colored pens on the outside of paper bags, cutting off PB&J crusts (which became my pre-run breakfast), adding fruit, chips and a little love note folded and tucked at the bottom. On one hand, it’s just lunch. On the other, it’s a reminder halfway through a long day away from home that you are loved and someone is excited to come find you in the pickup line. A reminder that in a sea of small faces, you are someone’s everything.

“Connection is probably what we are most hungry for now, longing for a deeper nourishment of the soul.”

Running endurance races, food becomes fuel. Aid stations become respite, then later, nirvana. Calculating caloric, electrolyte and salt intake to avoid cramping and overall delirium is as important to training as preparing for the physical effort itself. After enough miles, a Dixie cup of Coke, a salted boiled potato or a handful of trail mix with M&M’s can literally become the best thing you have ever tasted. Actually, no, that would be the cold beer after the finish line, and I’m not even a beer girl. Sometimes the best treats, like the best views, are earned.

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I would venture to say that the best thing about food, aside from its necessity for survival, is the way that human beings are connected through the communal ritual of mealtime. Connection is probably what we are most hungry for now, longing for a deeper nourishment of the soul. As I think about what vaccinated life looks like, one of the first things I want to do is host a dinner party. I want to put on a cute dress, be braless and barefoot, gather at my giant kitchen island with people I love, light candles, pour wine, listen to a vibey playlist, chop and prep and serve. I want to linger and laugh and savor the richly blended flavors of deep friendship, good food and the precious gift of time.

What are you hungry for?

That’s a very different question from “What do you want to eat?”

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Now is the time to move into a mindset of abundance, not just the abundance of what is available at the grocery store or where we are free to go, but what is available to us and what do we really want to experience? We have now survived COVID and SNOVID. We have learned to do without human connection, hugs, electricity, heat, internet, toilet paper and running water. We have endured broken pipes, broken plans and broken hearts. We have sacrificed so much that we now have acute clarity about what we cannot do without.

Let’s live like it. Let’s eat like it.

Let’s love like it.

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