Hunger puts things into perspective. That's the reason for taking this challenge — not for its novelty, or to mock those who live on a restricted food budget. I know that at the end of this week I will be able to escape and return to my more comfortable lifestyle — the thought is in my mind constantly. I am reminded at every turn of what I cannot have; it's clear from the billboards, the restaurant windows and the passersby flaunting their afternoon treats. Even after two days, I am beginning to experience the power of a rumbling stomach.
A rumbling stomach makes it hard to concentrate. It makes you tired. It makes you think about food all the time.
A rumbling stomach is depressing. It makes you bitter about the food-oriented culture we live in, and the over-indulgence that has become part of normality.
A rumbling stomach makes an orange taste like it's never tasted before. You savor every bite and experience the fullness of the flavor, knowing that there are no more in the fruit basket. It makes you chop vegetables to the very stem, striving to get as much as possible and waste nothing. It makes you afraid to wander into town with your bottle of tap water on a sizzling hot day and face all those people drinking smoothies that cost the same as your entire day's budget for food.
As Lisa Sherrill from the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano describes in a recent blog post, hunger isn't a game. Food is celebrated all around us — from the giant billboards depicting triple-stacked burgers and subway sandwiches the size of a forearm, to the plethora of restaurants serving portion sizes that could feed a family. The implication is that there is abundance for all, and yet millions of adults and children in California struggle with rumbling stomachs every day.
My own has taught me that I can live on less, and that food is not to be taken for granted — a thought I will continue to savor.
Below is a dinner recipe I came up with in desperation, after destroying two artichokes by burning them into a chewy mess.
Tofu and Eggplant Kebabs (Serves Two)
1/2 a pack of firm tofu, cut into large cubes
1/2 an eggplant, cut into large pieces
Pepper, ginger, garlic and soy sauce for marinade
- Combine the pepper, ginger, garlic and soy sauce in a bowl
- Add the tofu and eggplant cubes and pieces
- Cover and leave to marinade for 30 minutes to 2 hours
- Arrange the cubes on a kebab skewer
- Place on a greased or oiled baking tray and grill, turning every 5 minutes
To follow along with my experience of The Hunger Challenge, read: