I crave in color. More than a specific dish, more than something wildly decadent, I just want a compilation of colors. If I don’t see them I don’t feel satisfied. In college, I’d circle the hot and cold bars endlessly trying to compose a rainbow on my plate (I still do this at every buffet and potluck). These days I throw spinach or parsley into almost everything I cook… I just need to see it there. No one forced me to eat veggies as a kid, and I don’t follow any particular diet. It’s just what I want.
What we crave is both physical and emotional (this is my highly unscientific opinion). The physical: Our bodies crave what’s been missing from our meals or our hormones make seemingly odd combos irresistible. The emotional: When we feel the need for comfort or pleasure, we want the foods we ate as kids or what we’ve learned to love since then. I’m not sure where my color thing came from, but it’s just my version of every person’s inexplainable, wonderfully weird food preferences. There’s no rhyme or reason and no consistency either. What I want changes as often as my mood (so, pretty much constantly).
As single cooks, our craving is the loudest and often only voice in the kitchen. It’s obnoxiously loud, to the point where it’s hard to be satisfied with eating anything else. Answering that craving is giving your body what it needs, whether that’s a big salad or a big burger. It’s not giving into a lifetime of junk food because our bodies crave variety and moderation in all things. Something super rich and heavy gets just as boring as something super light after awhile.
I think we also crave what’s within reach: What’s in our fridge right now, what we know how to cook right now, what we can get delivered thirty minutes from now. The more we cook, the broader the foods we crave because we know we can achieve them at home. There’s less settling for what we don’t really want (old leftovers, a frozen entree) because we know how to give ourselves exactly what we do.
Knowing exactly what I’m craving and acting on it is so satisfying and empowering to me… it’s what drives me into the kitchen as a solo cook and makes me feel I belong there. It’s one of the best things about cooking for one.