If you can eat in moderation, maintain a balance and have self-control, food can be your friend. Or it can be your enemy. And it can strip you of your self-esteem, your self-worth, snatch away friends and make you unattractive to the opposite sex. But that’s just one of the ways in which food is personified in the volume of twenty-six short stories, Food and Other Enemies: Stories of Consuming Desire, edited by Leslie Powell.
Food can be an obsession, a source of comfort or torment, an erotic seducer, a symbol of family relationships and it can also set the tone of your lifestyle, as in people building their entire lives around the dining table. Dieters, calorie counters, weight watchers and others who control their appetites, will find many stories that reflect their experiences of tight clothes, weight loss clinics, hunger and the loneliness that comes from losing self-esteem as the pounds pack on.
In the opening story,"Breakfast with Marilyn," Susan Thomas presents the possibility that occurs to very few women – glamour is an attitude, not the number on the weighing scale. In 1957, at the age of 11, Susan Thomas did eat breakfast at the same coffeeshop Marilyn Monroe did eat, for three months. But they never met. The story, based on ‘what if?’ shows a humane, compassionate, friendly, girlish side of Monroe, which is the exact opposite of the frivolous, superficial, ultra glamorous, sexy image that the media presented of her to the world.
"She wet her lips, sat up straight and arched her back. Then she lifted her head and looked, eyes wide and focused. Glamour. It’s that easy."
Thomas doesn’t deny the aura of glamour Monroe possessed, but she hints that even without the body, the face and blonde hair, she would have still been glamorous.
There are some other outstanding gems in this collection. In "YoYo Girl" by Amanda Kenny, almost every woman can relate to how humiliating and debilitating hunger for food can be. In "Fat Eyes," by Gilbert Allen, portion control -- the mantra dished out in talk shows and magazines -- is a goal for the protagonist: "We eat what we see, we become what we see."
In "Living the Sweet Life" by Eliot Kahlil Wilson and Ariana–Sophia Kartsonis, the obsessive-compulsive bond with chocolate will be easy to identify with, too:
"When the time comes, I’m ending my life by leaping into one of the giant copper cauldrons of liquid chocolate at Hershey Park….what better way to die? A serotonin ecstasy."
If you appreciate fine cuisine, are a meat lover attached to chocolate or look forward to social events with food, this book is for you. A piece of advice? Reading this book will make you hungry. Eat before you sit down with it.