The Sweetness of Life(2)

By: Kathryn Andrews

My blog, Starving for Southern.

Sometime during our second year of college, I got the bright idea to start a food blog. Every weekend, instead of chasing boys and partying, Meg and I would travel all over and look for the best places to eat. It made sense to record it all. We ate at some amazing places and some not-so-good ones, too. Toss in our own recipes of things we liked, and before I knew it, the blog had a huge following. A huge, unexpected following.

Mostly, I’ve been able to keep my anonymity. Only a handful of people know that one of the owners of OBA and the author of Starving for Southern are the same person. After all, a true critic never exposes who they are, even though it was never my intention to be one. I would say that eighty-five percent of the food blog is positive—it really isn’t my goal to bash someone’s dream—but that other fifteen percent . . . it can’t be helped.

“I thought you were going out with that guy Neil tonight?” she asks me, carrying the last of today’s dishes to the dishwasher and stacking them on the rack.

“No, I need to finish this next article for Food Network Magazine.”

“He seems to be really into you . . . and he’s cute.” She takes my iced tea glass, adds it to the others, and pulls down the cage of the washer. It kicks on and the hum fills the space between us.

I met Neil at an art gallery opening last weekend that Meg and I catered. He was there to support his friend, the artist. “I know, and I thought he had potential until I watched him eat.”

Meg’s forehead wrinkles with confusion as she glances back over her shoulder at me, unties the apron, and hangs it on a large wrought iron coat rack that houses all the aprons we’ve collected over the years. “What happened?”

“He dropped in yesterday while you ran to the grocery store. He ordered the fried green tomato BLT and sucked his teeth after every bite.”

“Eww!” Meg squeals in horror. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me about this yesterday! What is it with you and guys lately? You have the worst track record of anyone ever,” she says as we walk out of the kitchen. I head back to my table as she goes into the small office to get today’s bank deposit.

“I know! I don’t get it at all.” Not that I’m interested in dividing my time between work and a guy, I prefer the work hands down, but I do enjoy their company every now and then. Bending over, I unclasp the straps of my heels, slide them off, and toss them in my bag. A groan escapes me as my feet flatten to the floor.

In the last year, I’ve cooked for a guy here at the restaurant who was vehemently against vegetables, so he wouldn’t do, and I found another taking photos of my recipes on his phone when I left the room—thief!

“You know, it all started with that wine guy Lexi tried to set me up with last fall at the Feeding America charity event.”

“Oh, that guy was the worst! What was his name again?”

“Zachary Wolff.”

Just saying his name heats my blood to a near boil, and my mind drifts back to an image of him and his haughty, disapproving glare. Lexi, who we met at culinary school, set us up on a blind date and had pointed him out to me shortly after we arrived, so I saw him before he saw me, and my breath caught at how incredibly handsome he was. For the first time in a long time, I thought, maybe, just maybe. But once introductions were made, he immediately frowned and looked away. Talk about a self-confidence crusher.

“That’s right. Too bad, too—he was hot. Wasn’t he a football player or something?”

“Yeah, he was hot, and he knew it, too. Lexi did mention that he was ex-NFL. I’ve never met a man so stuck on himself. How or why she’s friends with him, I’ll never know. Whatever. He barely gave me a second glance, which was so rude since he was supposed to be my date. Plus, he thought he was God’s gift to the wine world, looking down his nose at everyone at that event. And his wines aren’t that good!”

“How do you know? We don’t stock them here,” Meg asks as she emerges from the office.

“Well, technically I don’t know. I’ve never tasted his wines. But don’t you remember that article I stumbled across and showed you shortly after the event? The one that talked about the mediocre table wines? That’s his winery.”

“Now that you mention it, I do remember that. They rated those wines with four wilted grapes. Well, karma’s a bitch. Someone needs to remind him that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

“Seriously. I almost felt bad for him after reading it. Almost.” It’s too bad, though. I’d never seen eyes as blue as his—ice blue, that is. Just like his personality. “It’s all right, I really don’t have time to deal with a guy right now anyway. I want these articles to be so good that the editors of Food Network Magazine want to work with me year after year. And between the restaurant and the blog, I’m too busy. Career first, guys later. Remember?” I lift my bag onto my shoulder and tuck it under my arm.