Is there anything more inspiring than a farmer’s market at the height of the summer, piled high with funky heirloom tomatoes, eggplants from fairytale to freakishly large, crinkly peppers, bi-color corn as far as the eye can see and stone fruits in every color of the rainbow? Wouldn’t this be a great time to cook with all of them? Isn’t it almost a moral imperative to fill our systems with as much of summer as we can before it passes and we spend the rest of the seasons pining for its return? Probably, I mean, yes, of course. But cravings are cravings, and what I’ve really been dreaming about is so-called Chinese food, like, the terrible stuff that comes unceremoniously in white boxes with an embarrassment of chopsticks (because they thought you were ordering for a dozen people, and not just the three of you). I’ve long accepted that if I don’t at least occasionally indulge cravings, they’re never going to pass.
Last November, I finally got my chicken noodle soup exactly the way I always wanted it but when I brought it to the table, I couldn’t eat it. This happens sometimes. Sometimes I just spend too much time working on a dish and I’m rather sick of it by the time we eat it, in only the way that a person with first world problems can be. I chalked it up to that. I did not chalk it up to the pregnancy I’d found out about approximately 15 minutes prior, because my mother never had morning sickness with either me or my sister, I never had morning sickness with my son, and certainly didn’t think it was going to happen because of a 16 day-old rapidly dividing and already beloved cluster of cells.
My son was served an eviction notice at the 38.5 week mark, which means that as I now approach my 40th week of manufacturing a new human (that, ironically, we will likely spend the next few years threatening to eat) I have unquestionably never been this pregnant before. I’m beginning to feel a bit like a circus sideshow; I think that most women in my condition simply stay home, what else could explain what a spectacle I must be when I go anywhere? Yesterday, I had to go up to the hospital to fill out some paperwork, which led to possibly a new world record of awkward conversations in an hour timespan:
Just when I thought if my appetite ennui became any more listless I might have to change lines of work, the greatest thing happened: I ran out of space. I mean, I am fully At Capacity right now with baby, there is literally not another inch of my midsection that this child can annex for his/her condo renovation or whatever it does at night (you hear that, darling? mama even ceded her belly button!) and this has shifted my appetite one final time, yet at last for the better. Meat is out, starchy carbs are out, I just can’t, they’re too heavy, and in their place are heaps of vegetables with a side order of All The Watermelon. For once, my timing is impeccable as this coincides with the full swing of local farmers markets, with freshly picked piles of summer everywhere you turn. I’ve been angling for as many all-vegetable meals as I can pull off — mixtures of our summer go-tos like this zucchini saute, caprese, quick-cooked corn, roasted baby potatoes with herbs, and pretty much anything green, roasted to a blistering crisp with lemon juice — with just enough chicken or sausage on the side to please the 2/3 of my family not currently repulsed by such things.
As I’ve already admitted, I’m a boring preggo. No crazy dreams, sobbing at diaper commercials, middle of the night ice cream binges, pickle benders, sheesh, about the only thing I’ve ever gotten downright stereotypical about — eh, aside from months of frenetic nesting as evidenced by a gardening frenzy, walls! freezer stash and perhaps a few hasty furniture purchases — was when my husband came home from the store without the requested watermelon. How could he! Watermelon is edible air conditioning. It might be the only reason I’ve survived the summer thus far. It was a rough 22 minutes until he got back from the store (a whole block away) with more.
One of the things I’ve first-world struggled with since the beginning of this incubation period is a lack of appetite. Of course, there’s the glib side of me — great for managing weight gain! why “eat for two” if you can eat for half?! — but mostly, it’s a bummer. I thought that after the first trimester nausea passed, I’d be good to go and yes, I’m back to eating regular meals, but my enthusiasm has only returned in short bursts. Sure, I’ve shamelessly consumed all matter of crispy eggs with soy sauce, sesame oil and chile flakes (flipped only long enough to keep the food police at bay, or so I tell you). I will eat almost any green vegetable roasted to a blistering crisp with olive oil and salt and finished with lemon juice. Speaking of lemons, we go through homemade, barely sweet lemonade by the half-carafe. And some cravings are even fun; for example, “the baby wants ribs” was a text I sent out to friends a few weeks ago while led to a great deck party. But do you know when I sat down with my plate after an afternoon of carefully preparing three glorious racks of ribs, I could only eat one? It’s rather grim for a so-called food writer to go through life unmotivated by hunger and cravings, to have become a person who shrugs and says “Meh, whatever you want to eat is fine.” I don’t even know me.
Sure, there’s nothing glamorous about carrying a watermelon, so to speak, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I rather enjoy many parts of being pregnant. For example, you get to wear elastic-waist pants all the time. Your hair gets really thick and shiny; I mean, sure, it doesn’t last but if this is as close as I’m going to get in my lifetime to my Pantene Moment, you’d better believe I’m going to revel in it. It’s so very wrong, but I even secretly enjoy the soft bigotry of low expectations as literally nothing I admit — that I’ve been only swimming two times a week instead of three recently, that if I cook dinner twice a week, it’s a triumph, etc. — is met with less than “Go you! That’s amazing!” I even delight in watching people’s expressions change to borderline-panic on the street as they realize this rather normal-looking woman approaching them is, in fact, colossal when viewed from the side.