It’s been a rough few months for edibles in my little household. A growing zealotry for “local, organic food” meant that I spent many a Saturday standing in the produce section of my supermarket, seeking out one small plant grown in the state of New York that I wouldn’t feel guilty for purchasing, let alone eating. On several occasions I left with a half gallon of milk, a few packages of yeast, and not much else — returning home to make root vegetables, overwintered apples, and a freezer full of local protein into a week’s worth of meals. My waistline (and my rear-end) have grown a bit from all of the carbs and starch. My energy levels shrank. And my poor palate has been tormented and neglected. I find that I’m just not all that interested in food most of the time, and when I am, I don’t really have much sense of what I might actually enjoy rather than just tolerate.

The past two weeks, I’ve thrown out the “local” requirement altogether, just in the hope of teasing myself back to some interest in food. I’ve been all about yogurt (and will try a local, goat’s-milk variety this weekend), homemade granola (with toasted coconut but no dried fruit), beautiful golden bananas, and fresh spring berries. The strawberries and blueberries have been organic but not local, flown in from California on a daily basis. (Perhaps my colleagues on the West Coast appreciate my support for their local economy?) On Friday, I had a terrific Mexican birthday meal with my best friend — none of it local, none of it organic, but all of it scrumptious and enjoyed, including the frozen Tangerine Margarita rimmed with sugar crystals. Saturday afternoon saw me nibbling raw yellow pepper strips and my Nana’s walnut brownies. But I rediscovered the perfection of cooking last night.

Noodle bowls, my friends, noodle bowls.

A single “happy chicken” breast from the market, diced and sauteed with a bit of black-and-white pepper — 1/3 of it went into a deep-sided ceramic bowl, the other 2/3 into the fridge. Also into the bowl went a bit each of finely chopped carrot, celery, green pepper, asparagus, and bean sprouts. Half a package of uncooked ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet (ick!) as a stand-in for rice noodles, which I haven’t been able to find), a generous swirl of ground sea salt and a tiny flick of cinnamon joined the meat and veggies. Over the lot I poured 1.5 cups of nearly-boiling chicken broth, then covered the bowl with a heavy ceramic plate, sealing the heat into the bowl. 15 minutes later I sat down with a slice of crusty French bread and a bowl of al dente veggies and pasta, delicately flavored and fragrant.

My taste buds are back! Tonight’s plan: a Thai variety, with lemon grass, curry powder, and a bit of coconut milk. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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