Mariela Alvarez Toro

Staying Hungry

Mariela Alvarez Toro
Staying Hungry

We were walking into our neighbor restaurant when I spotted our good friends Marie and Colin through the steamy glass facade. I was too tired to cook and craving a giant glass of good wine. Upon catching each other’s eyeballs, Colin blurred out a quick - “Why haven’t you been posting to Tasty Plan?”.

I must have turned red, or white, or green. His question punctured through my skin and hit my soul the same way water hits a hot skillet - with utter shock and there to cause chaos. My head was spinning and my heart racing. Do I reply smartly and say that it’s an artistic statement on the negative impact of social media on the human psyche or do I tell the truth? Do I tell him that I quit my job three months ago and miss it, or that I am recovering from a two year depression, or that I just don’t know what to cook, yet alone eat?

“I’ve lost interest, I guess it has become irrelevant.”

Let me be clear, this is a lie. 

I’m still as obsessed with food as I was as a kid stealing plantain chips off my grandmother’s sizzling skillet. I’m as obsessed with food as I was when I sneaked sips of hard whipped, fresh brewed, sweet, sweet, Cuban coffee. I’m as obsessed as I was the day I decided to make cheesecake with my sister for the first time. I’m as obsessed as I was when I watched Mario talk about the nuances between the many, many regions of Italian cuisine. I’m as obsessed as that first blog post, and the last. The only thing that has changed is this - I refuse to define who I am based on what I eat.

I am not a vegetarian, I am not a vegan, I am not a pescatarian, or paleo, or keto, or pegan. I’m not anorexic, orthorexic, or struggle with millennial perfectionism. I am a bundle of cells, a million organisms, a fleeting mood, an evolving feeling, a microscopic piece within a ginormous, ever evolving puzzle. I am nobody and everybody at the same time. 

Tasty Plan was a product of love - food, plants, people, friends. A version on me that no longer is. When I started getting sick - physically, mentally, spiritually - I blamed food. I gave “healthy” the middle finger and lost it. I stoped ”making” and lost my purpose. It took years for me to understand that I needed to make to feel worthy, and that making could be anything - a playlist, a photograph, an absurd poem, a sketch, a party, a feast.

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So what do I eat, you ask. Of course you care - and while I think it is irrelevant I will indulge you with this. I gave up everything I love - long gone are the days of dipping dates in tahini, scratching the bottom of a pan for pegao, diving into a giant cauliflower head, slicing off a piece of the most delicious gluten-free cake, or crawling back for another seedy cracker

Keep your nuts, keep your chia, keep your oat milk - I am sticking to what I know and what makes me feel good, regardless of the marketing campaigns and the pretty packaging. I’ve mourned the loss, I am moving on. I am reinventing myself. I am starting over. 

I am holding tight to the feeling that inspired my love for food - it connects us, it builds community, it defines culture, and makes us family - and because of that,

my soul will forever stay hungry, my kitchen open, and the table always set.