On food & men, ep. 1: The Freak-out

Here’s a commonly accepted assumption: Food brings people closer. And here’s another one: the way to a man’s heart passes through his stomach.
Well, my friends, I have just the right story to prove these teed-bits of secular wisdom wrong.

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Food & the single girl

I have taken a long, long break from writing and it was not a good one. It was a year of breaks, each of them harder and less glamorous than the other: break-up, breakdown, heartbreak. I left behind a life I built the hard way and everything I thought I wanted, but didn’t. I had my heart broken in ways I didn’t suspect a heart can even be broken. I went to hell and back, several times.

Today I find myself alone and single and happy, with an entire universe to delve into. A lot has changed, and the way I interact with food has changed, too. Initially, I thought I’d be cooking up a storm and finally eating only the stuff I wanted (chickpeas, lentils and a ton of cheese). Yet, once alone, I found myself incapable of cooking. After a few weeks hiatus – during which I have no idea what I ate- I started coming back to my senses and back to the stove. I’m learning to shop for one and cook for one. What is the right balance between effort, time investment, pleasure of cooking and pleasure of eating? How many tomatoes do I buy, so I don’t go shopping every day and still, they don’t go bad on the kitchen counter? How long can one keep a bottle of champagne open (not that I have this problem often)? How to plan my meals, when I don’t know if I’m gonna eat out or not? This is a life experiment to be documented.

There’s another experiment that requires my attention, and I am ready to dive into thorough research. How do our food choices influence our relationships with the opposite sex? Would I sleep with a guy who orders well-done steak (yes, I judge)? What about a vegan guy (I did sleep with a vegetarian, so I guess that’s that). What about a guy who doesn’t know the difference between Thai and Chinese food (I can imagine such monsters exist).
Food has always been a gate to interpreting the world around me, understanding myself, assessing others and my relationship with them. This is what I am planning to explore in the next articles. I have never been shy with and of men, so I promise you it’s gonna be an interesting, funny and sometimes embarrassing ride. Stay tuned!

P.S. When you live alone, a kilo of cherries is, without any doubt, an appropriate dinner. And if it may give you stomach pain and diarrhea, it’s not a big deal. You live alone, after-all…


Photo-reportage: Communist eateries and food stores across Romania

While the previous photo-reportage brought back eating venues and markets of the early 20th century, the current one is looking at food in the late stages of communism. It is not my purpose the present an exhaustive analysis of communism in Romania; I will solely try to capture bits and pieces specifically related to food practices. I would ask the esteemed reader to keep in mind that this is a punctual account, that presents only one facet of communism. At the same time, it important to mention that, while Romanian communism spreads for about 30 years- formally, at least- not the entire period was the same. Read More

Food in books, ep.7: All quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. Food in times of war.

This novel, as well as its author, has a fascinating story. While some literary critics have praised All quiet on the Western Front as one of the most relevant and enticing war novels, others have denied its literary value and simply looked at it as a war reportage. Published in 1929, the novel had immediate, incredible success, selling over a million copies within a year after publication. Four years later, the German authorities banned the book, viewed as detrimental to the German nation. Piles of books were burned, the author being marked as a traitor.
Erich Maria Remarque was enrolled in the Great War in 1917, at the age of 18, as part of the Second Company. He was soon transferred to the Western Front. One month later he was wounded and sent back to a military hospital, in Germany, where he spent the rest of the war. After the Nazi regime banned the book, he fled to Switzerland, later becoming an American citizen. His remaining family faced horrid persecution back in Germany, one of his sisters being murdered by the authorities. As of 1948 he set for Switzerland again and spent the rest of his life there. What happened to Remarque during the war, but also what happened afterwards is nothing but a tragic, dreadful story. I will not attempt to present the storyline, as there is no way to capture it. I will, however, allow myself to advise the esteemed reader to pick up the novel, if there was no opportunity to do so yet.
While my interest in the connection between food and various cultural products is fairly wide, the Food in Books series is particularly close to my heart. Over the previous six episodes, I have explored a variety of literary works where food served as an instrument for constructing or at least supporting the story. Food has acquired different attributes and was portrayed in various capacities: as a means of control, as a marker for national identity or as comforter in troubled times. And yes, food is all these, and much more. Yet, I believe that in Remarque’s shattering novel food is simply food: a means of subsistence, sustainer of life and, ultimately, bringer of joy. Read More

Food and the city. Cooking and gender in Pop Culture representations.


One of my favorite writers, Bee Wilson, has analyzed the topic with wits and humor. She argues that SATC is not about shoes, but about brunch. Furthermore, she looks into changes that intervened throughout the seasons, as far as food is concerned. In the early days, the girls were often pictured eating green salads and cups of fruit or yogurt. As the story developed, the food- just like the fashion- got heavier and more sophisticated. Yet, there was always a constant: from beginning to end, the protagonists always gathered around food. Sharing a meal together is done among close friends, it makes people open up and share their stories. Be it brunch on a sunny terrace, expensive burgers in the Meat Packing district, vegan or BDSM flavored, sharing food is always a means of getting emotionally closer.
In this article I will shift the focus and look at attitudes towards cooking and the underlining messaging. I will review the way both genders engage in cooking and how they position themselves towards it. And there are quite a few interesting elements that emerged from the analysis. I’ve chosen this series because I believe it represents a major pop culture landmark, but also because I probably know it by heart. I confess: I watched many times over. Read More