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[Cancer, Food]

[cancer|food] Dreaming of hamburgers

My relationship with food is being inflected ever further by my course of chemotherapy. At this point, most things taste like they’re wrapped in plastic. (Or worse.) Over the last few days, my taste buds have rallied a bit, but the general trend has been downward. Given that this is my third pass through chemotherapy, I’m pretty familiar with the phenomenon. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant or desirable.

This morning, thanks to the good offices of Lisa Costello, I am making a rare non-medical expedition from the house to go cheese shopping at Pastaworks on SE Hawthorne. I think my taste buds can handle a little bit of subtlety right now, given the current aforementioned rally. I’d like to score some Sottocenere al tartuffo, about my favorite cheese in the world. Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t. This is preparatory to having a very small fondue party tomorrow here at Nuevo Rancho Lake. Again with the tasty and savory.

But the real obsession this week has been with burgers. I don’t actually want to eat one just now, but I’ve been thinking about them. A lot. A few days ago I paged through Food & Wine‘s Best Burgers in the US slide show with great longing. I was fondly recalling my short story, “Two All-Beef Patties”, with its increasingly improbable burger recipes. I’ve been imagining various combinations of ingredients and toppings to make at home.

And last night, I dreamt of burgers. Giant racks of them in a restaurant kitchen. All shapes and sizes, topped with everything from guacamole to onion rings to lardo-and-Sottocenere al tartuffo. Steaming hot. Greasy. Meaty. Savory. Spicy. Cheesey. Delicious.

I dreamt of meat.

Chemo destroys a lot of things. First and foremost, the fatigue drives me insane. Second most challenging after that, the perpetual GI disruptions. And there are so many other losses, from sexual dysfunction to a profound and endless emotional peevishness. On that list, food aversions and loss of appetite don’t actually rate all that high, but they are still a special misery all their own.

Dreaming of hamburgers, I miss my appetite and my sense of taste.

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