I know, I know… Meatloaf again?!
Eating is a basic biological need. It’s a function of existence much the same way as breathing or occasionally requiring… well, it’s usually the smallest room in the house and let’s not get any more graphic about it than that in a family-friendly blog, shall we?
But just as there are those moments when the world stops and spins dizzily for joy because that particular lungful of oxygen feels so darn good, there are meals where we eat because if we don’t we fall over and die… and there are meals that are transcendently delightful experiences.
We all have days when the most we can manage is a quickly-grabbed snack or hastily-microwaved plate of something vaguely resembling an unfortunate biological experiment. It happens. It’s nothing to sweat too much.
On the other hand, the more often we can feed ourselves thoughtfully, and with our feet firmly planted in the moment, the better food becomes and the more grounded we feel.
One side of my family is lapsed Catholic and the other is made up of cultural Presbyterians. We do guilt. Guilt is our stock in trade. We may not spend a lot of time darkening the doors of actual churches, but we are well versed in what worms we mortals be. Physical pleasures are suspect and vain… particularly on that Presbyterian side. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that things like food are pleasant precisely because of their biological necessity.
That’s right: we’re supposed to enjoy food. It’s okay to really appreciate the juice that runs down your chin when you bite into a really ripe peach. It’s fine to let yourself take a moment to notice just how brilliantly green that zucchini is. It’s no sin to allow a bite of ice cream to linger on your tongue or to take a moment to really fill your nostrils with the scent of a savory stew before you take the first bite.
Let yourself love your food.
Take time with it. Maybe not absolutely every single meal, because as I said we all have days when we just plain cant. But when you can. Even if it’s just a brief moment where you do notice color, texture, aroma before you dig in. Especially when life feels like it’s spiraling out of control. Take a couple seconds to think about what you want to eat. Take half an hour and notice the meal you have in front of you.
Not only do you have more fun eating, you spend less time later on struggling with heartburn and indigestion. You feel whether or not you’ve eaten your fill, and can make a decision based on actual hunger cues rather than whether there’s still food on your plate.
Even a brief slowing of the day can help you feel more like you know what you’re doing and how to do it properly.
It’s said that when Jennifer Patterson of the Two Fat Ladies was in the hospital dying of lung cancer, her partner in culinary crime, Clarissa Dickson Wright brought a tin of caviar to the hospital for her friend. Alas! She arrived too late. Patterson had died very shortly before Wright got there.
As a tribute, Wright ate the caviar herself on the day of Patterson’s funeral.
My dears, if I should suddenly fall off the twig of life and you want to memorialize me, then go out and either create or buy the very best pastry you can… and really take the time to appreciate every crumb properly.
Trust me, it will taste all the better because you took your time.