Reading and eating are two of my favourite activities. In combination they can be sublime–or deadly. As a child, I almost choked to death while gnawing on a salted apricot. I was lying on the floor, reading a book, when I rolled over to turn the page. At that moment, the seed got stuck in my throat.
My mother always warned me about reading and eating at the same time, but I had never thought it could actually kill me. Panicking, I choked and gagged until it mercifully dislodged. But despite the terror of that experience, I still continue to eat and read. Just not lying down (I’ve always wondered how many deaths occurred at Roman banquets).
By the way, by reading and eating, I don’t mean ignoring other people at the dinner table with a book. That’s not allowed in our household, even if my children beg and scream and wave their overdue library books. What I really mean is quality time with a book and a good snack — the right combination can really elevate the experience.
Some favorite reading snacks:
– smoked sardines on toast with sliced tomatoes and melted cheese
– green, unripe mangoes sprinkled with salt
– a slice of cake (any kind)
– chocolate, preferably dark.
– thin slivers of Manchego with crisp apple slices
– instant ramen
– piece of crusty, warm baguette smeared with good butter
I could keep going but I’d better stop before I make a break for the fridge. Granted, some of these snacks take more work than others. And some are more meal-size, though a few olives or a single slice of good ham can be more than sufficient. In fact, tailoring food to the book itself is a higher form of art, though you have to be prepared to make do with what’s at hand. For example, Orhan Pamuk’s wonderful novel “My Name is Red”, set in 16th century Istanbul, made me want to devour tender, flaky pigeon pies and ripe pomegranates, but some dates from Trader Joe’s were ok too.
Recently I noticed that just as I don’t account for the time I spend reading, I also seem to operate under the impression that food ingested while reading is devoid of calories and thus guilt-free. This is clearly wrong, and my waistline can attest to this, but I can’t seem to rid myself of this delusion…
What do you like to eat when you’re reading?