Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How I Cooked My Way Back From Ennui

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on 12/10/13. 

I periodically suffer from ennui, which is my way of saying that I'm feeling quite low, but I'm still capable of laughter and feeling emotions, so I'm not going to belittle depression by slapping that label on whatever this is.

When it hits, I lie on the couch and feel with every fiber of my being that it would be utterly pointless to do anything but lie on the couch and feel how pointless everything is. 

Good times.

My latest bout was brought on by over two weeks of nonstop illness of one type or another. I like to joke that having a chronic pain disorder like migraines won't kill you, but it'll make you wish you were dead. After a couple of weeks without a single good day with the knowledge that getting better means you'll get one, maybe two good days at the most, even the most relentlessly chipper person would start wallowing.

I am not a relentlessly chipper person to start with, but at least I can usually look forward to the little things. Mealtimes are nice. No matter how much life sucks, there's always something yummy to perk me up.

Except that I lost my appetite this time, either to one of my illnesses or the ennui.

So that sucked.

Then my husband picked up some spare ribs for dinner. The man makes a good rib. I started looking forward to dinner. 

I also started thinking that coleslaw would really hit the spot.

Doesn't that look cheering? And also, why the hell is the lighting in my kitchen so fucking yellow?

I didn't make the slaw in time for dinner because 1. ennui and 2. too many steps. 

Of course, stores make cole slaw, but they just don't cut it in this house. Not since I discovered B&G Oyster's Coleslaw* in my quest to use up a cabbage as big as my head I got from our CSA. 

But the next day, I decided that slaw needed to happen. I went to the supermarket and discovered that it was snowing, which was as nice as it was completely unsettling because it NEVER snows in NYC in December. Except this year, apparently.

Cabbage obtained, I fired up a podcast of This American Life and started making mayonnaise from scratch. Not because I'm pretentious, but because lemons give me migraines and the only commercially available mayo without lemon juice is Miracle Whip, which, just, ew.

The mayo broke not once, but twice. I didn't even consider giving up because I hate wasting food. Especially when Julia Child has so kindly provided a remedy right along with the recipe.

After that, the slaw was easy. Slice, slice, slice the cabbage on the mandoline, mix up the dressing and let there be slaw.

As I write this, I'm still sick and I have no idea when I'm going to have a healthy day. But the ennui is gone for now. 

I don't know if it's because for me, coleslaw is like sunshine in winter, or because feeling healthy enough to prepare something so involved gave me hope. But I'll keep it in mind for the next time.

*Recipe tips: use less salt than it calls for unless you want it to be ridonkulously salty, and leave out the black pepper unless you're going to eat it all right away because peppered slaw left in the fridge overnight tastes too peppery to eat.

It turns out that the increased health issues and ennui were actually side effects from something I took to prevent the migraines. It got worse before I realized that I didn't have to keep doing it myself and I made it stop. More about that tomorrow.

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