When the Earth was still young, the serpent seduced Eve with promises of forbidden knowledge and delicious fruit. Some say it was apple, crisp and ruby red. Other theologians imagine Eve fascinated by an illicit pomegranate, her flesh split open to reveal gem-like seeds that glistened in the garden sun. I know what it’s like to lust after an elusive taste, hoping that finding it will ignite something completely unstable or long dormant in your soul. My Eden was a Southern supermarket; a perfect summer peach was my blessed temptation.
Growing up, men in black suits screaming about hell from the pulpit impressed upon me how heavy women’s desires could be. Women on TV did the same, although instead of selling salvation they peddled slimming shakes and 10-day diet plans. The two were on a mission to make the girls afraid of turning into women whose passions took up too much space.
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During the days, I recited calorie counts like catechisms and recorded each mile walked like a penitent prayer on a rosary. As a young teenager, I lay awake in my blush-colored bedroom – the paint left over from childhood – terrified that if I died in my sleep, my heart wouldn’t be pure enough to carry me to the other side because I I was constantly beating myself hungry.
I longed for the kind of contact we had been warned about in the youth group meetings held in the moldy basement of the church. A minister with a childish smile who bumped into his crow’s feet described it as a lightning shock that warmed your whole body. This heat, he warned, was the embrace of God in the context of marriage. Other than that, it was a taste of hellfire.
The wives of the elders told us that the scandal was a living metaphor for how we could stumble our Brethren in Christ.
He left the church soon after, after confessing to the entire congregation that he had sinned in such a way that it would require him to resign from the ministry. Eventually, other church leaders began whispering that he had had an “emotional affair” with a 15-year-old girl who was too young to age outside the youth group, but old enough in the minds of the people. elders to seduce a married woman. dad. So, finally, she left too.
In whispers, the wives of the elders told us that the scandal was a living metaphor for how we could stumble our Brethren in Christ, so we needed to make ourselves even smaller.
I prayed for purity at the same compulsive pace as I checked my stomach for pinchable fat. I didn’t have a full-length mirror, so I stood on my tiptoes in the hallway near the bathroom to check for any signs of bloating, my index fingers and thumbs extending into a slight triangle on my bottom. -belly. Has the triangle pushed further than last week? What yesterday? What before eating today?
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When I was 18 or 19, I stole my first sip of hard liquor and was shocked at how much I enjoyed it, especially on an empty stomach.
It produced, of course, a kind of heady lightness that was hard to achieve while sober. But more than that, he burned. A single blow produced what can best be described as a lightning shock that warmed my whole body. That too might be a taste of the eternal fire, but to burn would mean to feel something, and after a while that alone was appealing.
After a period of acute hunger, the gnawing eventually subsides in favor of numbness. Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, but it never really fills you. Joy is another of the spiritual fruits, even though it seemed impossible to pick.
Self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, but it never really fills you.
But at some point, I knew I had to try. I wanted to feel hungry again. More than that, I wanted to satisfy him.
On a hot afternoon in early July, I found myself in a South Carolina supermarket face to face with a pyramid of ripe peaches, their fuzz slightly concealing a supple skin that graduated like a sunset from pale yellow to pale yellow. burnt orange. I was initially stopped from pulling one from the pile – maybe they’d be sweet enough to set off a chain reaction I couldn’t control – but I knew one bite wouldn’t kill me .
I bought two.
The cashier gently placed them in a brown paper bag, which I carried to a bench overlooking the hot asphalt parking lot. The air was thick and heavy and filled with the sound of tourists’ flip-flops slapping on the sidewalk.
just one biteI thought to myself, balancing the velvety weight of the peach in my palm. It burst in my mouth as I tore apart the tender amber flesh, the sweet juice coating my lips and tongue. I hit the pit with my teeth and quickly spun the fruit for more. I’m sure if anyone bothered to look in my direction, the sight was slightly animalistic, but it felt natural. After all, what could be more natural than the desire to be nourished? God made this peach, perfect in form. Maybe I was also perfect in mine, even with uncontrollable passions and hunger.
I bit into the second peach.
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