When I first moved to California I was unemployed for a little over six months. I had expected that it would take me a little while to find a job, I mean we did decide to move during a slightly precarious time in this countries economy. I was not prepared though, for how hard this would be on me. Rob found a job rather quickly and needed the car to do it so I ended up on my own with no way to get anywhere. I was already pretty fragile due to my fear from the move and the fact that I did not know anyone here in California, so I had to be extra careful with myself.
Anyone that has been unemployed for an extended amount of time knows how damaging it can be and also how boring. Before my move I had worked two jobs for three years leaving myself with only 1 day off a week. During that time I dreamed of having extended time off and all of the things that I would do with all that time. I can now say that all those imaginings are a crock, I never did any of those things. What I did do was sit on the computer and watch TV a lot. I often felt guilty about my lack of contribution to the household as Rob worked his butt off, yet I could never seem to find the energy to carry my share. I would scramble around the house in the hour or so that Rob was to get home from work trying to do a days worth of chores and cooking so that he wouldn’t think I had spent my day doing what I had actually spent my day doing.
Rob was at as much of a loss as I was, and was doing his best to be as careful with me as I was. Neither one of us could do much about my employment situation, but we could try to fill my time. He brought me home tons of figs, peaches, pomegranates and persimmons from the farm he was working on in the hopes that the foreign to a New Yorker bounty would catch my attention. I won’t be so quaint as to say that cooking healed/saved me, though I think for many it can. I did learn the importance of simple things though. A lot of my unemployment was spent during the hottest months of summer in a pretty hot area of the country, so the foods I was drawn to and the ones that made me happiest included very little cooking and tended to have a cooling effect when eaten.
Fig and lemon jam
Plate of hard boiled eggs with cut up veggies and cheese
Fresh tomato, Mozzarella and Basil sandwiches
I find when times are tough we seek out simple things to latch onto, so that although we may be surrounded by difficulty and our mood and emotions seem out of our control, we still have this little thing to find pleasure in. I am sure I will have many more instances in my life where things will be pretty darned tough, that is the nature of this glorious life, but I do know that eventually I will get out of them and I will usually emerge with a few more recipes and favorite foods. I will also say that knowing that is no consolation while these things are actually happening.
Some foodie books I enjoyed while I was unemployed:
Born Round: the secret history of a full-time eater by Frank Bruni
The Feasting Season by Nancy Coons
Bento Box in the Heartland: the Japanese girlhood in whitebread America by Linda Furiya
The Big Oyster: history on the half shell by Mark Kurlansky