More than once, I have been accused of manslaughter. I’ll tell you now that I’m innocent. I’m not like those other girls, who after the killing tear through flesh and bone to the one delectable part that matters — the heart — still pulsating, still warm, still aching.

After the slaughter comes the feast.

Man-eating is a different art than say, cannibalism. I would not say it requires a more sophisticated palate, but it certainly calls for a moxie not found in the staid whispers of Hannibal Lecter. Whether motivated by survival or criminal derangement, cannibalism almost seems practical, if not simply gross. But man-eating, though generally more common and less fatal, is undoubtedly the sexier of the two — and I’m all about that.

But really, I’m innocent.

Man-eating implies some sort of power struggle between aggressor and victim. But there is always one point when fate becomes inescapable, and the prey’s last move is finally resigned into the predator’s mouth. This is when the roast is at 130 degrees, the toothpick comes out clean from the cake, and the table is set. Mealtime. And although some would prefer a relaxed, pick-at-the-bones-until-midnight meal, I don’t like to linger over dinner. My appetite tends to be somewhat ravenous, and I like to leave the remains for someone else to clean up.

But what goes with man?

Oh, I wouldn’t know — but since this is a food column, I’ll offer some suggestions. To get the icky taste of slimy, arrogant men out of your mouth, I’d recommend a cucumber salad, or perhaps a citrusy ceviche. Love ’em and leave ’em players can taste a little gamey, and are best minced in order to get rid of the gristle. Whiny and cynical men would fare well with a vanilla sundae, cheese tart, or anything else in the dairy family. Much like how milk takes away the bitterness of coffee, this combination makes for a delightfully balanced meal.

[NOTE: In efforts to conserve an endangered species, nice guys should be eaten with restraint, or ideally not at all. Like the Chilean sea bass, they’re hard to come by. I would imagine they would be delicious — sweet, and maybe a little spicy? — but the aftertaste would probably be unbearable, like eating your cat or something. Don’t do it.]

But really, I’m only writing this because I know a little something about cooking.

Additionally, food can signify many things in this world of crime and revenge, love and passion. It can be a punishment, like losing a dare and eating a concoction of diner food, saliva, mayo and grape jelly. It can be probation, like the compulsory vegetables before dessert. It can even be the crime itself: stinking sushi, powdered mashed potatoes, green ketchup.

But then there’s the food that could break your heart: aggressively crispy grapes; a flowery-nutty baklava; a serenely bland black bean soup. Or how about a suave scallop, a delicate meringue or a witty, cosmopolitan, well-dressed Waldorf salad? So you see, I’m a lover and not a hater. There are foods with whom I have fallen in love. And in the end, I eat them. Maybe it’s the ravenous appetite or the desire to try new and tastier things, but it’s not premeditated, and it’s not murder. If you’re anything like me and you have a stomach that acts like a heart, you’d know. It’s difficult to ever satisfy them both.

It was starvation of the heart, nymphomania of the stomach.

So there, you got a confession out of me. But it’ll never hold in court. I ate all the evidence.

Cucumber Salad

(adapted for dining hall preparation)


Sliced cucumber

Sliced Red Onion


Freshly cracked pepper

Fresh lemon or lime juice

In bowl, sprinkle cucumbers and onions with liberal amount of salt. After 5-7 minutes, drain water from cucumbers with hands. Add to bowl more salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Jessica Tom is learning to eat a little slower.