That's the first thing my husband ever said to me. It wasn't just out of thin air, mind you. It's not as if he went around randomly "yam mash"-ing strange women in Lower East Side bars or anything. Rather, we'd met via online personals two weeks before that, and as I am wont to do, I'd asked him if he'd ever had a meal that made him cry.
He responded, several hours later, with this.
I wrote back, "Say yam mash to me. Say it to me slowly."
I'd tried, goodness knows, to compromise and pair with indifferent eaters, men with other spheres of interest, granted - painting, chess, comedy - but little interest in the life of the stomach. We were never going to be more than friends. Food, and the sharing of it - the flavors, the conversations, the swaps of bites and sips and stories - is so fundamental to my being that to ignore this part of it would be...well, it wouldn't be me.
I'm not alone in this. Moments after I posed the question, "Could you stay seriously romantically involved with someone who didn't care about food the way you do?" to Eatocracy's social network, the responses began pouring in.
A few from Twitter:
Food surely isn't the only thing Douglas and I have in common; we're equally music-obsessed, need pets around us, are on the same page about not having kids, hate raising our voices, are bad at sitting still and say "I love you; you're my favorite person" daily and sincerely. We're also possessed of comically different palates. I groove on harsh, earthy and funky flavors - horseradish, anchovies, sweetbreads, herring, hot sauce and headcheese. He loathes these and cannot abide heat, cilantro, parsley, halibut, dill, any form of sausage, meatball, meatloaf or lukewarm food.
We find common ground - roasted vegetables, slow-smoked pork shoulder, a pot of collard greens, cheese grits and eggs on a Sunday morning - and revel in the ritual of preparing, plating and eating those meals together. It's not always fancy, either. We've got the Szechuan takeout place at the top of the street on speed dial and dine at the nearby taqueria so frequently that either one of us can just look up at the other, walking in the door from work after 9:30 p.m., say "tacos?" and start slipping on shoes at their nod of assent.
These meals are where we talk and connect and slough off the stresses of the day. I've eaten with plenty of men for whom food is a chore, a box to be ticked off several times daily in order to stay alive. These were not dispassionate partners - just strung in a different key than I am, and eventually the discordance became too much to bear.
And 21 months after that first, rapturous description of a meal, the showing-off chef in question gave Douglas and me one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received: massive trays of his yam mash to serve to the guests at our wedding.
Previously - Could you date someone who was rude to the waiter?