The art of food - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Recently, I took a sick day from work. A pretty rare occurrence for me, as I’ve only taken a handful over my years here. But, Tallulah brought home a nasty stomach bug from daycare over a weekend and I was unlucky enough to pick it up, so I spent a Monday night slung over a toilet and a Tuesday (our deadline day) lying lifelessly on a couch (taking occasional breaks to sling myself over a toilet once again).
As I floated between sleep and waking and being actively sick versus passively sick, I re-ran some old episodes of Chef’s Table on Netflix. The show focuses on some of the world’s best chefs creating dishes at some of the best restaurants all over the world (although recent seasons have attempted to lower that high brow with seasons focused on barbecue and pizza, though the dishes look no less delicious). Jess pointed out something that didn’t occur to me at the time, which is how absurd it was that I would sit there for somewhere between eight and 12 hours watching people prepare, cook and eat food, considering what I had been through in the last 24 hours (being violently ill) and, more to the point, what I had not been doing (eating - not that I had any real interest in it at the time).
So, here I am, on an empty stomach, with no interest in filling it, watching Francis Mallmann and Dario Cecchini cook steaks over fire and Rodney Scott and Tootsie Tomanetz make southern barbecue. I can see why Jess would think that was a bit strange, but I didn’t think twice about it.
For whatever reason, I didn’t really make the connection that she did. It didn’t bother me that I watched hour upon hour about food, all the while not personally wanting to have anything to do with food. I guess that’s why she’s the smart one in the house.
I will say, going through what Tallulah had gone through just a few days earlier, it gave me a real appreciation for how tough of a cookie she is. To be as sick as she was, and to really have no idea of what exactly was happening to her poor, little body must have been hard and pretty scary.
On the Sunday she was sick, all she wanted to do was lie on the couch (I can relate) and watch episodes of Peppa Pig (when she wasn’t actually getting sick herself). So, as I sat down on the couch and watched episode after episode of Chef’s Table, I thought that, to a certain extent, my daughter and I aren’t all that different after all. She was watching Peppa Pig episodes she’s watched a million times before and I was doing the same with Chef’s Table.
It brought me back to those sick days I used to have from school when I was a young boy. I think I’ve written about them before, but, in the days before PVRs and video-on-demand (sure, we had VCRs, but that was a lot of effort - plus you needed to be sure you had a blank tape, or a tape with something on it you were alright with taping over) being home from school on a weekday was magical. You could watch all of the shows you always missed while you were at school - mostly game shows and weird daytime talk shows with paternity tests, bad kids going to boot camps or those people who had lost a bunch of weight and wanted to show their high school bully how great they looked now. What a glorious time.
Sick days just aren’t what they used to be, with children, responsibilities, bills to pay and chores to do, but, in both of our cases, we were lucky enough to have Jess there for us, taking care of business so we were free to watch our shows and wait to feel better.