January in DC is cold – a wet dreary cold that seeps into your bones and chills them more than any snowstorm. We ate soup, despite how bad I am at making it, and I blended one tray of roasted squash after another, trying to perfect squash bisque. They were all pretty bad but we still ate them, sopping up the bland mess with thick hunks of bread before concluding that we just like solid roasted squash better.
I moved on from soup to Brussels sprouts, roasting so many trays in February that James finally voiced a weary observation that maybe we could take a little break from sprouts. We laughed with friends and flipped crêpes in our tiny kitchen for la chandeleur and we let the cold outside drive us inside, hold us around the table as we enjoyed dinners in with friends.
In March I drowned myself in tea as I wrote my thesis and studied for my MA exams. I spent all of spring break at the table writing and guzzling, one cup after another of Good Earth Sweet and Spicy tea, wearing flannel pants and reading Camus. There are far worse ways to spend a week. One day I needed spring, and we had strawberry shortcake for dinner. The berries were weak and bland but they reminded us that spring would come eventually.
And in April it came, and we started eating on the porch again. We shivered by our plates in those days where it was still too cold to eat outside but we didn’t come in. Food carried outside crosses a threshold that instantly improves upon it. We went to New York and ate too many things to chronicle, celebrating my MA and enjoying this stage of life where we can have adventures so easily.
In the end of May we went to Colorado with my family and we ate trail mix on mountaintops and onion grilled cheese sandwiches in the cabin. We hiked through the snow and yelled at each other when we got lost, but then made up and laughed about it later. We ate apples dug from the bottom of backpacks and even those Cliff bars that taste so gross but make you feel like you are accomplishing something just by eating them.
And then it was summer. I would have eaten from the picnic basket every night if I could have, and we carted bread, cheese, and pasta salad around the city. We dipped carrots into hummus beside good friends. We let the city be our property, its parks our yards, and its spaces our places. We went to the beach on the weekends and ate sandwiches that had sand in them, but we didn’t care. We drank strawberry lemonade every day and tried to cook quick things that didn’t keep us in that narrow, hot, air-conditionless kitchen. Our brothers both came to town and we ate caprese salad with every meal. We started setting the table for three or four more often than two, and my heart just about burst from the joy of having family in DC with us.
In July we celebrated our one-year anniversary with donuts in bed, brunch, and ballpark hot-dogs. We dined out at a fancy French place and looked back on how wonderful that fist year was. Then I wrote that one post, and this previously overlooked little corner of the Internet got 1.5 million views in a week and I considered crawling under a rock and deleting all forms of social media. We weren’t ready for it, and it was exciting reading positive comments and encouraging emails that poured in, but they were mixed with the bad words, cruel things people said that I deleted but still remember. I was stressed, and ate comfort foods, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cried more than I should admit.
We celebrated James’ birthday in August with peach cobbler and mine with pink cake and s’mores in September. We welcomed fall with its promises of cooler days and changing colors. I got French pastries on Wednesdays from the farmer’s market on campus and spent Saturdays writing papers at Starbucks, drinking salted-caramel mochas. We tried to keep up with my weekly produce box, forcing ourselves to eat fennel and beets, staining all our cutting boards bright purple and choking down endless radishes.
In October the government shut down and everyone critiqued Capitol Hill of laziness while I watched James trudge to work early and stay late, even on the weekends. Everything stressful for my semester seemed to happen during those same weeks and they were the first really hard weeks of our whole relationship. Dinnertime was suspended, chores left undone, and we were so tired. We ate meals from cardboard cartons and became connoisseurs of all the local take-out options.
November brought peace, and kale salad five days a week to undo the dietary pain of October. I can’t even begin to express how much kale I ate in November. To balance it out, we made donuts with friends and crammed 12 people around our table for Thanksgiving dinner. There wasn’t much time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, but we made the most of it with gingerbread cookies, hot cocoa, and eggnog at night. We sat on our couch, stared at our tree, and dreamed about the future.
In 2013 we ate wedding cake and raised glasses to new marriages twelve times. Our year was punctuated with celebrating new love and new commitment. We held new babies and shared meals with new friends. We continued eating beside old ones, but without the charade of fancy plates and elaborate table settings. In 2013 we ate brunch almost every weekend, sometimes out as we explored out city, and sometimes in, omelets and coffee to start the day right.
I’m sure it seems silly to recap the year in this way, through the food we ate. Everyone eats, you might say, anyone could do this. And so they could. But when I think back on all the tastes that have defined different parts of our past year, I am reminded afresh of the goodness of gathering around a table, a picnic blanket, or a couch. When we eat, we open up and share with those around us. Our year was full of eating, good eating, the type where you sit back and linger and let your stories fill the hours as you continue picking off of plates. I want to look back on this year and remember how it tasted like Brussels sprouts, kale salad, wedding cake, and sand-filled sandwiches on summer weekends at the beach.