Cravings are funny things. One can crave a lot of things--food, a puppy (boy, have I been craving one something awful ever since the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam came back into my life), sex, a massage, but food cravings seem to be the most common and easily remedied.
Cravings are often irrational and can be alarmingly specific. My dad told me that when my mother was pregnant (he did not specify which child), she would crave Hungry Man brand TV dinners, specifically the Salisbury Steak kind. Eugh. Lord knows why she wanted those, but luckily enough, the chemicals lacing those meals did not leach into the baby. Too much. Perhaps this is why my dad won't tell us which one of us this craving was connected to. I do have a funny mental image of him in his pajamas at 1 a.m. trolling the frozen food aisle, asking the lone grocery store staffer, who is probably stoned at that hour, if he has any more Hungry Man Salisbury Steaks in the back. Other than the 5 he already has in his cart, thank you.
Granted, the hormones in this particular case are not as useful for our purposes, but cravings are funny things, and often linked as much to memory as they are to taste, and sometimes, it is extremely difficult to vocalize exactly what the hell you want (salt? sugar? salt and sugar? Is there a chocolate covered pretzel in the house?).
I recently finished a charming little tome entitled Gourmet Rhapsody by French writer Muriel Barbary, the author of the bestselling Elegance of the Hedgehog, which is marvelous. Funnily enough, her editor here in the States is actually a good friend of Vronsky's and mine, and is an excellent cook himself.
In Gourmet Rhapsody, the snooty, difficult, and aloof Pierre Arthens lays dying in apartment on the rue de Grenelle. Pierre also happens to be the greatest food critic France has ever known, and as he reflects upon his life in his final hours, he finds himself searching for that one last taste, a taste he cannot quite define or specify, but that he yearns for with all his waning strength.
I doubt it was Hungry Man Salisbury Steaks.
But as I said, cravings are powerful things, and Pierre sifts through a lifetime of memories surrounding food. From the perfect brioche to his first taste of sushi, for him, food is an inseparable combination of the sensation of taste, texture and association. He believes that the best chefs in all of Paris are striving to capture that same magical emotional response they first got from their grandmama's beef bourguinon, and what finally satiates Pierre's craving will surprise you.
I've had all sorts of bizarre cravings in my life, usually centered around something cheese related. I know, I'm a freak. Who craves cheese? This must be a sign of some sort of nutriet deficiency. I am half-Chinese, after all, and petite--a walking poster child for early-onset osteoporosis--but still. I am clearly getting enough diary between my greek yogurt, granola and banana parfaits in the morning and this constant search for cheese. Brie, manchego, Dublin cheddar, you name it, I will eat it. I had these amazing goat-cheese and leek crepes from Le Bonne Soup last week that were incredible. Mmmm...I wish I had some brie right now with some some raspberry quince jam or dried apricots. I must make a trip to the store.
I don't usually crave sugar, but every once in a while I will get an intense yen for strawberry ice cream in a cake cone. Not the fancy waffle cones. Those artificial beige cake cones. The kind they used to serve at the old school baskin robbins. Or chocolate covered almonds. Mmm.
Sometimes cravings are obviously nutrition related. After a nasty bought with the stomach flu, I craved some perfectly blanched broccoli with lemon. I love broccoli, but it was probably also due to the fact that I had nothing but saltines and tea for two days and needed some actual vitamins.
I went backpacking for a week up in Isle Royale, which is about 3 hours each way smack dab in the middle of Lake Superior, so obviously we had to pack in all our own food, and at the end of the week, I would have killed some one for some clementines and pineapple. After every triathlon I've ever done, I crave BBQ chicken pizza.
One day at work I had a craving for a turkey sandwich on rye bread with tomato, sprouts, and a little spicy mustard. April Bloomfield of Breslin apparently craves tea and biscuits (that's cookies to us non-Brits) on a regular basis. Vronsky has craved miso soup. My roommate currently has a craving for cauliflower mashed potatoes, and we planning on making some Sunday night.
What about you? What are some of your weirdest cravings?