Impossible though it seems, it was but a blink of an eye since I allowed opaque liquid harvested from a cow - cooled by the chill kiss of the gently humming silver box in the corner of the room in my apartment where culinary alchemy occurs - to cascade over a receptacle filled with corn fashioned into tiny crisp wafers. Dusted with crystals of sweetness, I devoured them, masticating while musing on the nature of sustenance. I felt their energy merge with my own as they became a part of me, until later (about 11.00am to be specific) when they no longer were.
The midday repast is a special thing. It is when we reward ourselves for time spent not eating, even though we have not stopped ingesting with our minds. Lunch should not be onerous, but a joyous thing, it should ease the passage to afternoon, not jar it. No one wants a jar in their passage. And yet it is a meal to linger over, to celebrate with friends and at which to make new friends (I recall the look of pleasant surprise on the face of the plumber, who had come to fix a dripping tap, when I offered him a roll).
Yet lunch must not dominate the day, I ask only of it that it leave room for afternoon tea, some street food perhaps on the way to the artisan deli, a fucking enormous great dinner and Madeira cake and sherry before bed. Lunch must lurk in the margins of its sister meals, like a heroin addict in a shadowy alleyway, waiting for the next drunk to mug.
There is only one thing that can satisfy all these conditions. It is a meeting of carbohydrate and protein, a culinary conclave as ancient as an Italian granny. The cured flesh of the swine environed by milled wheat, water, yeast and salt that has been transformed into the staff of life by the magic of heat. Yes, a ham fucking sandwich.
Bring the ham whole to the table, along with a pristine loaf and allow your guests to rip away at flesh, crust and crumb with their bare hands. In that way, the meal becomes an energy vibrator that touches your guests in a very deep and real way. And you haven't had to go to the bother of making a load of sarnies for your freeloading mates.
Too soon, the meal has ended and friends drift away, leaving the gift of their memory in the form of the literal bare bones of the feast. I may use the ham bones for stock, or sharpen them and carry them as weapons (the alleyways around here are full of malevolent heroin addicts). To have offered food to your friends is to commit an act of love. And when you feed others, you feed your own needs too. You are saying 'I love you' but also 'I really love myself'. And no one's going to argue with that.
Addled Palate is categorically not related to Tamar Adler, and The Eternal Lunchtime in no way resembles her book and Guardian column Everlasting Meals.