I’m monogamous. I mean, I’ve dabbled with other forms of relationships, who hasn’t? But I have only one answer to “Let’s share a tornado”.
Look, if you want “one” (meaning not the unit of the tornado itself, which clearly is “one” on its own; but “one” meaning a potato circle, just one ring that ENDS, with no overlap), just to try it, then yes. I will share.
Mum had said she wasn’t even hungry, and we could just share one, because she didn’t want that much. And then she kept talking while absentmindedly pulling off MULTIPLE CIRCLES AT ONCE, without even making eye contact with the stick. Where’s the respect?! The reverence?! And she’d talk, and she’d eat, and I’d look at her and wonder if it was too late to get emancipated.
We ordered one between us. I know I don’t share tornados, but I was in love, and when we’re in love we think we’re invincible. We think the previously impossible is now possible. We think we can fly.
We were at a food festival. Queues were long, the air was dry, and the heat had crept its little fingers inside everyone’s brains to fog them up. Somewhere in the Curly Spuds tent they’d gotten confused, and they looked at us expectedly and asked what flavour.
Chicken salt, of course.
But then the man said “on both?”
In that second I had a choice. I could have said “sir, you are confused, we just ordered one”. But I didn’t, did I. I just said “yes please”. I then took both tornados and turned away, muttering “don’t ask questions”.
Now, if it were me, and someone handed me some food, I would eat it all until it was gone. This has been proven over and over. The evidence is solid. Unless, of course, it is healthy and contains vital nutrients, in which case hunger does actually get a say in the equation, it’s not just shame and taste at the wheel.
Well, not everyone is like me. Some people only listen to hunger and stop when they are full. My human-beau ate barely a full circle before he said he didn’t want it anymore. Now, do we think hunger got involved? Here? With MY potato?
I ate two.
It was the day I learned that the tornado is already designed to be the perfect unit of food. Half is not enough. One is just right. Two is – well, two is something I don’t like to think about anymore in too much detail.
It was over with the human-beau.
I was heartbroken and a mess, barely able to see colours, crying or angry or numb. The future seemed bleak. I didn’t know who I was anymore. One morning I woke up and A Thought was there, waiting for me. Like a newspaper outside my front door. The thought was that I had to walk.
I thought of Charlotte in Sex and the City (who was thinking of Elizabeth Taylor) when she said it was time to to pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together. It was time to be pulled together. So I laced up my shoes and went.
Now that I think back on it, I think probably I should have channeled Lorelai Gilmore (who was thinking of Cheryl Strayed) when she went and did Wild, which also involved walking at a traumatic time and would have been a far more fitting piece of inspiration. But the heart wants what it wants, and at that moment, it wanted to be Charlotte going to that baby shower dressed entirely inappropriately.
So I walked for almost two hours, one foot in front of the other, the effort reminding me I was alive. When I reached St Kilda and it started to rain, I decided maybe my pilgrimage had gone far enough, and headed towards the tram.
But then, like a mirage in a desert, I saw a row of food trucks. Food trucks! What could be more loveable? Bright colours, happy faces, tiny paper numbers to signify when it’s your turn, and yes, potato tornados.
Fairgrounds. Markets. Street parties. Chinese New Year. He goes where it’s warm, where there’s music. I could never fall in love with a fancy snack. My beloved can be made anywhere.
And that’s when it got really special.
Not only was there a food truck making potato tornados, but they had a “salt your own” station. Every other tornado I’ve eaten in life has been the result of usually one but maybe two requests – “lots of chicken salt” or “half chilli half salt and vinegar”, say. Yes, I’ve expressed my needs, but the ultimate result has been up to someone else. How heavy their hand is. How carefully they shake. If they are delicate in filling in the grooves or not.
Finally the power was in my hands, and I could be as specific as I desired.
Instead of being intimidated by the spread of options, I was delighted. Life was mine, all mine, and I could do whatever I damn well pleased with it. It was full of options and full of flavour, with no time pressure and no judgement.
I ate my tornado that day in the rain and I didn’t care.
Life had flavour. It had options. I was going to be ok.