I’m not what you would call a “food person.” I just don’t particularly enjoy food. It’s alright, I guess, but I’m content eating a bowl of cereal or an avocado or some microwaved peas for dinner most nights. Sometimes some hummus if I’m feeling sassy. Even in my travels, I’ll just grab a quick bite somewhere - acutely aware that I’m missing parts of the culture in leaps and bounds. In four days in Paris I ate only two actual meals, one of which was Mediterranean food in the ethnic neighborhood where we stayed. Most of the time I just can’t be bothered.
Yesterday was the birthday of one of my very dearest friends, a woman I’ve traveled with extensively and completely adore. She, her boyfriend, her sister (a chef), and their friends are all food people, and twelve hours later, I’m still considering never eating again.
Downtown Durham, has an incredible food scene (even for non-food people). It’s all old warehouses and neat old tobacco buildings brought up to date and filled with awesome shops and restaurants and galleries.
We started off at Dos Perros, authentic gourmet Mexican food that was, quite frankly, better than the food I had in Mexico. Cilantro rice and black beans, squash, peppers, and potatoes drenched in seven chile mole sauce served over grilled cactus with warm corn tortillas. And a pisco sour (Peru’s national drink!), to go with it. Later, we all split a flan so good we unabashedly sucked the caramel right off the plate (don’t judge). For what was probably the first time in my life, and certainly the first time since going totally veggie 16 years ago, I had a bite of trout stuffed with crab. It was like the turducken of the sea, and it was really good.
For second dessert (we were celebrating a birthday, after all), we walked over to France/ Rue Cler, where we were immediately greeted with a bottle of champagne and a dozensugary beignets.
“The french invented food,” my friend says as he orders a plate of fromage and fruit slices and bread, declares himself Monsieur FancyPants (in a French accent of course), and attempts to teach me how to pronounce the crepe I’m about to order properly. I can’t, but I order a cafe au lait (there’s a weakness in my heart for beignets and cafe au lait, it’s all the fault of New Orleans), and a peach crepe and fresh creamy ice cream on top, and proceed to stuff my face some more. A bit of beignet here, a bite of crepe, a nibble of my friend’s terrine au chocolat.
The food was incredible, but what was more incredible was that none of looked at our phones or checked our e-mail. We didn’t order our food, eat it, and leave. We lingered for hours, ordering more and more things. We laughed over jokes and work stories and things that weren’t funny at all, we drank amazing cocktails and coffee with too much cream and sugar. We passed our food and drinks around, insisting one another tried the amazing things on our plates. We stayed until after the restaurant closed, laughing and laughing, and until today’s food hangover, it never once occurred to me that what I was eating was “bad” for me. I didn’t envision the steps on the treadmill required to counteract each ounce of buttery crepe.
Food, it turns out, is actually meant to be enjoyed with people - not on your couch watching Dr. Who.