The late humorist Erma Bombeck wrote a column in May of 1990 titled “Older People Only Talk about Food.” The joke was that older people, going somewhere remarkable like Yellowstone, only want to report on the food they ate on the trip. The main reason, she speculates, is that, “after a certain age, food is one of the few vices left that you can enjoy.”
    This gentle slam now has me in its sights. I’m one of them now, the older folk who talk talk talk about food, and not only at vacation locales. I’m like the army, which famously runs on its belly. I can’t seem to even do my shoulder therapy exercises without a food break. “I need a treat for  doing these awful reps!”
    Food is even what I first recall about movies. My favorite scene in “My Cousin Vinnie” is where  our bickering couple, who have traveled to the South to provide dubious legal skills to a nephew, in the morning get their first look at the menu of the nearby diner, which states their choices simply–Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. “I don’t know, what do you think, Hon, Breakfast?” she says. They order breakfast and aren’t done yet. The cook asks how they like their grits. A new food they can’t even guess the food group for, as you can see on their faces.
    And last night a movie came on that Bill remarked never gets shown on TV–the Altman brilliance known as “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.” He came upstairs to call me to watch with him, and mentioned that it was not every day you hear the phrase “butternut muff diver.” Of course I laughed, but you know which scene the movie cued up for me? Why, the food! Not every day will you see people in life or in the movies ordering food like this pair: two raw eggs and a whiskey for McCabe, and for Mrs. Miller, a meal for someone who hasn’t eaten in awhile, an astonishing list of about two days worth of dishes, ending with, after you were sure this thin person was through ordering, “and some stew and hot tea.”   
    For me now food isn’t only a fascination with flavors and treats. I just put a new finished batch of  kombucha into the fridge after five days on the counter lying under a slimy, ugly “mother.” I lovingly picked out the mother, which looks like something the ocean washed up, and returned it to its jar until time for a new batch. I am acquiring a taste for this sweet-tart drink. But when I add the, let’s face it, vinegary amber liquid to a glass of water I’m hoping it is a health tonic. I want to be around for some time to come, to taste life’s sweetness. Which has more to do with the people I love than with sugar. Anyone want a kombucha mother? I have an extra.

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