When I tell strangers that I’m a food writer, they tell me I’m lucky, and then — looking at my belly — ask, “How do you eat all that food?” I like to say that I only eat three bites of any dish I taste, but that’s hooey: I got the idea from a novel, and though its restraint appeals to me, I’ve never been able to do it. I rarely tell them that I don’t write reviews anymore because eating all that food started to make me sick. I never tell them that at the peak of my short eating career I ran 15 to 20 miles a week so that I could tuck into my meals with careless abandon. As a “foodie,” being free of such worries is part of my street cred and, as a woman, I’m supposed to have some control. People like the three-bite secret, and the question deserves a false answer: after all, no one asks my male colleagues how they keep from getting fat.
So why am I being honest now? I’ve just read Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen, food writer Hannah Howard’s book about coming of age in the New York food scene with an eating disorder. It’s honest and funny and full of her love of food — and the conflict between her insatiable hunger with her desire to be thin. I’ve come away from it thinking she is very brave. And that I, and maybe all women, have to be more honest about our relationship to food — if only to take some of the pressure off and let each other know that we get it.
[Appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books]