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“What are you eating, baby?”

“I’ve got some baked beans and a smoked brisket sandwich.”

“Mmm…that sounds good. Take a bite. I want to hear how that sauce tastes.”

I say this with no qualms whatsoever: phone eating can be almost as good as phone sex. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t get off on hearing about dinner, but it does create a level of intimacy that rises above your typical “how was your day” conversation, and when you’re stuck in a long distance relationship, any degree of intimacy helps.

Long distance relationships are the worst. That’s a fact. They have all of the emotional attachment of regular relationships without any of the benefits of being in the same place. I’ve been in two long distance relationships in my life and they both ended badly, which is why it’s surprising that I’ve stumbled into another one. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, you must be incredibly special. And she is. She’s wonderful. That’s what makes it so shitty that she lives in Alabama.

We talk about food a lot. She’s not nearly as food-obsessed as I am, but she still appreciates a good chicken finger and that helps. Going over what we ate for the day makes me feel like we’re part of each others’ lives and with a situation like ours, that’s really important. Eating is a shared experience and if you can’t share it in person, over the phone is the next best option (or via webcam, but that takes extra setup time).

Even better than the phone, though, are the rare times when we actually get to see each other. Like right now. I’m writing this while sitting on her bed. I’ve been down in Birmingham for a week and it’s been everything I wanted it to be. That’s the thing about long distance – it absolutely sucks when you’re not together but when you are, oh man. That’s the stuff. Everything is intensified because you know you only have a little bit of time together. It’s like every day is the last day of camp.

As with most trips, food has provided the structure of the entire visit. We’ve shared peanut butter cream pie from Miss Myra’s and the incomparable tomato salad from Hot and Hot Fish Club, the upscale Southern restaurant from Chris Hastings, who was just named James Beard Best Chef in the South.

We roadtripped to Pensacola, FL and devoured an insanely good piece of blackened grouper just steps from the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped along the way back at a barbeque shack next to a gas station for the best fried okra I’ve ever had. We’ve had incredible mac and cheese from Saw’s and out-of-the-box burgers from Top Chef Richard Blais‘ Flip Burger. All in all, it’s been a fantastic trip and I’m completely full – with both food and love.

With regular relationships, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Long distance relationships don’t offer that as an option. You have to make sure each minute counts because it could be weeks or months before you see each other again. Eating acts as the glue for the time you get to spend together.

While I’ll certainly be thinking about all of the intimate time we got to enjoy and the crazy Helmet concert we stumbled into, my memories of this trip will revolve around the meals we shared together because that’s when we got to stare at each other and just enjoy being in the same zip code together. Long distance may suck, but when food is involved, it makes the whole thing more manageable.


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