The following was written by my super cute boyfriend Steve, who went to beautiful Maine without me while I slaved at my overcrowded desk at work.
As Ileana would much prefer, I should skip the platitudes, clichés or repetitions that have been rendered meaningless through their frequent usage. But for this post, I open with just one:
“Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.”
Not too long ago, I parted from Ileana for a trip with my Mom and Dad to the Northeast. The real Northeast, where lobsters are steamed by the wayside and sea catch still dominates port town economies; and where trees still converse in the heart of the mainland. It was on this journey to Acadia National Park, where Ileana’s absence became glaringly apparent. Not just in the sentimental, “I miss you like a cheeseburger misses bacon,” sense, but in a very tangible, very deliberate, “why in the heck is no one appreciating the culinary-genius of this food?” sort of way.
En route to Acadia my family and I passed farm stands, but just kept driving. We dined at really fun places like chowder joints and lobster pounds, but something ceremonious was being left out of our travels. I found myself staring at my food, and thinking, “why is nobody taking a picture of this?” Finally, at Jordan Pond, in Acadia National Park, I gave in and started snapping pictures of food. I figured at least I would have some food memories to show Ileana, because without her, food documentation has been a zero-zilch-nada in my life.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post: when I first started dating Ileana, she apologized to me for making me wait a moment to take pictures of my food when we were dining out together. It was when she surprised me for my birthday by taking me to Grassroots Station, a place where the meat was as ethically raised as it was deliciously prepared. Anyhow, her careful documentation started as a curiosity for me, and burgeoned into one of my favorite things about her. See, Ileana’s an artist. Not just with her ability to create, but also with her ability to appreciate food. She unwraps layers of cuisine complexity, sheds light on the marvel of their design, and provides an experience of nuanced pleasure.
Of the many things that make Ileana who she is, her ebullience for food is something that makes her glorious. Ileana, thank you for this blog and for making food an experience. Your presence was missed in Acadia. In the case of our food, we had beauty without the beholder.