In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" T. S. Eliot says a lot about food. There is, first, a restaurant with oyster shells, then yellow smoke licking its tongue into corners, and hands that "drop a question on your plate." There is the "taking of a toast and tea." The measuring of life in coffee spoons. Food to left of me, food to the right of me and in between a book called Will Write for Food (Diane Jacob).
Last night I ate nectarines, trying not to let the juice run into the controls of my e-reader. Also avoiding the smear of a little wedge of cheese in my left hand. Will eat and read, read and eat. Usually, I eat ripe fruit over the sink, letting the juice drop as it will, leaving no puddle on the counter or drip on my shirt. Food stains down the front of a shirt are for toddlers or geezers, and I refuse to be a geezer. I could have cut the fruit into a bowl, eaten it neatly, in lady-like bites with a fork. Why did I not?
Because Prufrock takes careful tea and cakes and ices, because he has fasted and returned to "the cups, the marmalade, the tea . . ." and "bitten off the matter with a smile." And ended, almost, with the famous question which he never answers: "Do I dare to eat a peach?" Yes, I dare, I do, I did, I will again, and let the juice run where it will.