A Father’s Neurosis Challenged

Dayna Macy • Berkeley, CA

Excerpted From Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom

My Father loved me. I often felt his warmth. But his love was dangerous and inconsistent.

And so I turned to food for comfort. Sausage is a food that seduces me. It’s not the only one. There are a handful of foods that I long for, foods that, once I start eating them, I have a hard time stopping: Cheese. Olives. Chocolate. And sausage. They are my go-to foods, my fill-me-up-and-stuff-me foods. They all involve some combination of salt, fat, and sugar. They hold me captive.

“You’re aware, of course, that sausage is a phallic symbol?” a friend asks.

Yes, I am. In classic Freudian theory, it’s common for a child to sexually desire the parent of the opposite sex. While it’s true that my father was very handsome, with his silky, black, wavy hair and big, soft brown eyes, I didn’t want to bed him. I wanted to deck him.


My father’s haphazard kosher rules went something like this: Cheeseburgers? Yes. Shrimp? Okay, but only in Chinese restaurants. Pork? Forget about it. God would not only strike you dead for eating pig, he’d spit on you for good measure. Naturally, then, I ate pork whenever possible, sometimes even with my mother.

Almost every Sunday while I was growing up, she’d take me to our local luncheonette, where we’d sit at the counter on brown Naugahyde-topped swivel stools. My mother ordered a buttered roll and coffee, and I got a ham sandwich on a kaiser roll with spicy mustard. I loved having not only my mother’s full attention for an hour, but also her silent complicity in my crime.

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