Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello To Everyone and No One...

Hello everyone. I am L, and I am a bulimic male, with a possible touch of anorexia. I live in the greatest city in the world (New York) with a constant case of the munchies. I am obsessed with food and cooking, and I spend about seventy percent of my day thinking about it. The other thirty percent is spent on how terrible, ugly, and worthless I am.

Last year, I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education, and completed my externship at one of Manhattan's hottest restaurants. After the completion of the externship with an A-, I was thrilled to have been hired to work on the line. Of course, having an eating disorder really takes its toll on one's energy level and attention span, so I was understandably fired after making too many mistakes. It didn't help things much when I told them I didn't really want to be a chef; I just wasn't ready.

Although I was exercising unhealthy eating habits during my education and brief employment, my condition severely worsened after I stopped working. At one point I was binging and purging as many as seven times a day, and went for weeks without a single bowel movement. I lost more than forty pounds (and my sex drive), and was hospitalized three times with severe hypokalemia (critically low potassium) and magnesium and sodium deficiency. Each time I was placed on a heart monitor.

Now that I am living alone, I am finally ready to go on with my life and career in the food industry. As my favorite Chef Instructor from ICE once told me, cooking keeps me sane. All I need now is for someone somewhere to take a chance on me, and trust that I will perform the occasionally grueling duties and stomach all the hardships that a career in the restaurant industry is guaranteed to afford me.

Why continue to pursue a career that I clearly have some animosity towards, you ask? Well my friends, please don't misunderstand me. I love cooking, and despite everything, I believe choosing this path was the best thing I have ever done. Consider this: Throughout history, restaurant careers have been a successful outlet for the lonely, the misunderstood, the alienated, the antisocial. It is also not uncommon for restaurant work to be a last resort for stigmatized citizens who have served time in prison. Throughout history, many other downtrodden, demoralized groups of people have taken solace in their cooking. The overtaxed peasants of Pre-Revolutionary France, the working class of feudal China, and the African slaves of the Confederacy all learned to draw culinary inspiration and create fabulous dishes from the unappetizing slop they were allotted. So why shouldn't I be drawn to a trade that is not only dynamic and exciting, but also quick to forgive, and slow to judge people for their humanity?

I am writing this primarily as a constructive outlet for myself. However, should one find any dark humor, bittersweet irony, fun facts, or great recipes, I won't be too quick to judge. Furthermore, if I can help even one other person in a similar situation by talking about what I've long seen as the unspeakable, then I will have surpassed my goal by far. That may sound cheesy, but come on: do you know anyone who doesn't like cheese?

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