Everyday Gourmet: Hunger gains

By Kim Dannies

Hunger gains
Thanks to a weird bug last week, I lost my appetite for six days. While I was able to go about my routine, I had no interest whatsoever in food. This has never happened to me before. For someone who thinks about food pretty much all the time, it was a very odd experience. Like a cheerleader on Quaaludes, I simply didn’t give a fig about the dinner rah-rah, or even who else might be hungry.

My exile to the “eat to live” camp was surreal, but while there I gained a huge appreciation for folks who are ambivalent, even indifferent, when it comes to mealtime. We’re not all cooks by choice, but we’re all eaters by necessity. It takes a tremendous amount of focus and energy to crank out decent meals on a regular basis. To have to do that with the enthusiasm of a brick must be a special kind of kitchen hell.

Now I see why take-out is so very beloved, and I get why meal replacement products like Soylent (a cross between cream of wheat and Metamucil) are gaining traction. My hubby cooked me a simple bowl of noodles and butter, and this made me very content. I started to think about the tremendous amount of time, money and effort I could redirect if my appetite decamped for good. I fantasized about brokering peace in the Middle East, curing cancer, maybe even finishing my novel—then my fever broke and I was at Trader Joe’s.

I’ll tell you this: I will never again judge someone else’s food habits, choices or motivations. Fueling is a very individual matter. We may know better and hope for more on our menus, but we are all doing the best we can in this moment.

Simple Farro Salad

Farro, a whole grain that cooks up like pasta, has a nutty nutritional bang. Eaten simply with butter and salt, there is nothing finer. It loves just about any added veggie, cheese, nut, herb or protein. Dress with a store brand vinaigrette.

Boil 2 cups of farro for 20-25 minutes; taste for doneness. Strain. Eat warm, or scatter farro on a cookie sheet to dry for 20 minutes. This will keep it from clumping if you are making a cold salad.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to