The Edible Complex: Stories of Food and Transformation: Notes from the creative literary arts editor
Allison Katz, LCSW
I am honored to begin my tenure as the Creative Literary Arts editor of Psychoanalytic Perspectives, following in the estimable footsteps of Bonnie Zindel. Working with Bonnie over the years was an immersion into a creative world of possibility, and I carry the torch of this special section with her singular wisdom, vitality, and gravitas in mind.
In stepping into my role as editor of this section, I’ve come to understand that what feels most important to me about the creative literary arts are the ways they have the power to draw the reader into the intimacy of a moment. For this issue, I have decided to highlight a viscerally experiential subject: I have always found it instinctual to write about food. What else in life is as indulgently uncomplicated as a fabulous meal? The unmitigated pleasure of eating a piece of perfectly crisped, meaty, southern fried chicken? Or the unparalleled satisfaction of a bite of expertly prepared, buttery gnocchi?
If a psychoanalytic dyad is frequently considered to be a love story, then food and psychoanalysis are keenly connected. Indeed, many refer to food as the universal language of love, and so often, a memorable meal is not a private, but an intimately primal relational experience. Several months ago, this phenomenon emerged in my consulting room, when a patient brought in a special dessert from her country of origin for us to share. I took a bite of this beautiful, flaky, custard-filled pastry, and reveled in the glorious crunch I heard in my ear. How had I lived my life and never indulged in this exquisite creation, I asked my patient? She was delighted by my reaction, and the two of us ate together, happily, with no need for conversation. My sense is that we have never been more intimately connected.
After this meal with my patient, I started wondering about the power of food to transform a moment. For this issue, I asked several psychoanalysts to describe a life-altering culinary event. Each contributor took this request in surprising directions, spanning the globe with their delicious journeys.
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