This morning I received an email informing me that an old acquaintance had died. According to the obituary, contributions should be directed to the National Eating Disorders Association.
It is always sobering to learn of a death, particularly that of a near-contemporary. Yet as I reflected on the news, I recalled a comment made by Nigella Lawson. It was perversely cruel, she noted, that her the preparation of one of her early cookbooks had coincided with the final decline of her then-husband John. Dying of throat cancer, he had been unable to eat anything that she was testing.
I have been lucky to be sheltered from the grim realities of anorexia and bulimia. I can claim no meaningful or original insight into how these diseases overtake, and in some cases, destroy lives. The one thing which perhaps I understand is the unadulterated pleasure which can come from the preparation and consumption of food. In an altogether different way, I may also appreciate the time and energy which goes into being obsessed with it. What I cannot fathom is how the thing which has given me such great joy and fulfillment was also the source of so much pain and unhappiness for another.
As I write this, dinner is on the stove. It promises to be a good one. Yet tonite, at least, it is difficult to summon up the joy.