A Giant Pile of Green Beans Heaped with Almonds and Brown Butter
not all depression foods look the same
things you’ll need: green beans, almonds, butter, salt, something very small to send you down the spiral, and something to stare at blankly while you play tug of war between giving yourself time to feel and constantly struggling against whatever is trying to pull you under.
incidentally gluten-free and vegetarian, oven toast the almonds or use a plant-based butter that incorporates nuts (almonds and or cashews), which might brown a little bit, but will also impart a lot of that rich flavor in its own
inspired, in part, from this article on languishing from Adam Grant at the New York Times but also life, in general.
You don’t know what exactly started it. You never do. You pretend like you do not see it coming, even though you feel it tapping at the back of your head all the time. When you look back, you say that you were obviously depressed, but when you are sitting inside of it, before it topples you over, you say “I’m fine” as though you are willing it to be true.
You don’t call anyone or reach out because people don’t want to hear about it and they have enough to manage on their own, so you say. We are all managing until we are one straw away from nope, now I am curled around this roll of toilet paper and trying not to audibly weep so I don’t disturb anyone with the sound of my suffocated sobs.
You know that you are not alone, but you also don’t think it’s fair to drag anyone into the nihilistic cloud of body odor and despair that you assume follows you, a backwash of wallowing gloom.
It happens often enough that talking about it makes it seems like a problem and problems have solutions whereas this only has management strategies and coping techniques, mitigations and consolations.
Maybe this is why you bristle when you feel the world’s palms at your back, shoving you from your languishing peace through the door, back into whatever they call normal. That way lies danger. That way lies grief and anxiety. That way lies cognitive dissonance and gaslighting. That way lies "revenge bedtime procrastination” and falling asleep only to dream that you are still at work, only now you are naked or lost or your teeth are crumbling.
Sometimes have to stop and just surrender yourself to all of the feelings. Then you can get back to readjusting to the world as we now know it. Whether that’s fighting against the world we call normal or just putting on pants and feeding yourself. Set the bar where you need it.
Some depression food comes out of a can or cardboard box. Maybe you have a little stash in the freezer. It’s usually something that doesn’t actually make you feel any better, physically anyway, but the taste dredges up endorphins from the deep well of blah within you. Something akin to pleasure that reminds you of the impermanence of your current emotional state, that there is life after today, after tomorrow, after the fist uncurls from your heart.
Today, you are relying on your belief that food is magic. That eating something fresh and taking the time to make something for yourself is a spell to dispel a demon or a hex or to open a chakra or something.
Salt has long been used to purify and protect. If you’ve watched pretty much any show with supernatural themes, you’ve seen circles of salt or salt across a doorway to keep evil from crossing. Salt goes back to the bible. Back before that book made its way to other places, salt was already there, in sacrifice, in death ritual, in wealth and trade, in innovation, and in whatever we ate. The salinity of human blood is similar to seawater and that sounds like magic or nature or something worth believing in.
Start with well-salted water, like the sea, and bring it to a boil. Add trimmed green beans and watch the rolling boil drop itself to a simmer as soon as the cold beans hit the water. Know there is meaning there, whether you are the rolling boil or the hard shock of cold.
In the meantime, drop a lot of butter into a warm pan and watch it melt, the way it moves from puddle to sizzle. Add slivered or shaved almonds and more salt. Hold back the flame, keeping steady heat and turning the contents as the butter and almonds both slowly brown.
Take a bean from the hot saltwater bath and bite one end. You want the bean tender, but still a bit resistant (metaphor intended). Drain and place on a plate.
Cover beans in heaping mounds of toasted nuts and butter. Squeeze lemon over the top, because lemons always make you feel better.
Feed yourself and feel a little better having eaten something green and salty. You might still cry, your body a small saltwater sea of its own. You might go back to bed. You might stand and take one step forward. You might feel your spell at work within you, like a fist slowly opening.
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