Hi, I have a weird rash. I'm sorry you have to know that about me but I figured I'd get it out of the way by making toast about it. Do you feel better? I don't. This rash is just one of the gross, unpleasant things that have been going on with my body for the past few months for no as-yet-diagnosable reason. There's also constant low-level gut pain, what feels to be a knitting needle jabbing into my right ovary from time to time, periodic all-over itching, and I'm semi-sure that if I actually ate this toast, it'd come right back up, but also maybe not. It's like Russian roulette, but with my digestive system, which is very exciting.
I hope that wasn't too weird for you, but I also kind of don't care. There's this whole notion that when we talk about food or show it, it must be bright and cute and sunny and give you nom-noms in your tum-tum and be all about community, enchanted grandmas, and generous feelings. But right now food is making me feel pretty damn separate from humanity. These days I never know if the thing I put in my mouth is going to completely nauseate me or go down non-contentiously, so eating with people (other than my husband who is stuck with me by law and love) is kind of off the table right now. The thing that is usually the source of tremendous connection, pleasure, and sustenance to me—not to mention the subject I write about for a living—is making me want to curl up in a ball and whimper.
I also hope it's going to help heal me. I'm lucky enough and quite grateful to have health insurance and I'm delving into the world of specialists and various invasive tests—but I'm also taking the plunge and talking to a nutritionist, who I hope will set me on the road to if not even wellness, at least not-horrible-all-the-time-ness. I trust that it can work—I've seen chefs like Sam Talbot, Seamus Mullen, and Marco Canora eat themselves from sickness into healthy, strong, almost new bodies with the help of nourishing, excellent, joyful food. I want this for me and for you, too. Can we toast to that?
Photo by Alex Tepper via Getty Images
Spread (see note below)
How to Make It
Add food coloring to the spread of your choice to approximate the color of your flesh. I am a particularly fishbelly-pale Caucasian person, so that was maybe ½ a cup of cream cheese with 2 drops of yellow and one drop of red. Experiment to find your match. Everyone should be allowed to express their inner pain via the medium of toast.
Toast a slice of bread and when it cools, slather it thickly with your flesh spread. Embed Tic-Tacs in the spread in a manner that most approximates the physical condition you would like to convey. Press them in and let them sit. They will begin to melt into the spread in a gory fashion. Poke at them or don't until the surface of the toast expresses your feelings adequately.
Post it on Instagram and start an awkward but necessary conversation.