It would seem that pretty much everything on this blog is food talk, and it is, in the practical sense. That is all important stuff to cover, but it isn’t what food is really about to me. If food was just about practicality, I would spend a lot less time reading, thinking about, researching, shopping for and preparing it. For me, food is about passion. It is about love, It is about nourishment far beyond the physical body. It is about community, tradition, family, memories. Food is the absolute center of my world.
With Spring Break going on this week (exciting for me since I teach but do not have children, so I really get a break), I have had time to fully indulge my “food brain” as Joy the Baker likes to call it. I have spent countless hours on the internet researching some ideas I have and a few recipes I want to try, I have been reading “My Berlin Kitchen” and I watched The Hundred-Foot Journey . It is always good to know that I am not the only food obsessed one out there. While my family appreciates my culinary adventures, they don’t really “care” about food like I do.
I literally gasped in awe at the markets in The Hundred-Foot Journey and I could taste the salty olives, creamy cheese and the warm yeasty dough as I read about many of the recipes the Author’s family prepared in “My Berlin Kitchen”. I find these kind of stories so deeply, entirely satisfying and I just can’t get enough. Burnout happens with even the most passionate cooks, something that used to make me doubt my passions, but it doesn’t take much to get me excited again.
After seeing the markets in the movie, I had to take a trip to Wegmans (it is the closest I am getting to a market this time of year in Western New York). First, I picked up a cup of coffee while taking in the rich smooth aromas. Then, I took a few minutes to just stand at the front of the produce section and admire all of the colors and textures. I slowly walked around and took the time to really appreciate what was offered. I picked things up to touch them, smell them and imagine them on my table, A few things made it into my shopping basket and I moved on. I went to the olive bar and cheese area. I packed a variety of briny olives into a small container and picked up a couple of chunks of cheese. Next, I walked over to the bakery and admired the crisp golden crusts of their freshly baked loaves. I debated between their rosemary olive oil or the garlic tuscan bread for a few minutes- taking the time to gently squeeze and smell each- before adding one to my basket. On my way to the register, I picked up a bouquet of flowers. I never even made it past that side of the store. I had what I had come for-a sense of connection, of contentment, of joy. I also had the makings of a really delicious lunch.
Once I arrived home, I trimmed my flowers and put them in a vase on the table. I made a salad with dark leafy spring mix, salty feta cheese, toasted walnuts, olives and my favorite sweet balsamic homemade dressing. I sliced a thick piece of the impossibly chewy bread with the perfect crunchy crust and soft center and poured a bit of olive oil to dip it in. I poured a small glass of wine,lit a candle and sat down at the table for a late lunch. It was one of those meals that was so simple yet so utterly satisfying. It never even crossed my mind to photograph it. When I was done eating, I just sat there, thankful for the time to enjoy such a simple thing so very much.
It was great to remember how important it is to slow down sometimes. To take the time to truly enjoy the things that bring me real pleasure. It is not practical to think that meals can be such an occasion everyday, but I am going to try to add little touches to remind me that they can and should be sometimes. Tucking a cloth napkin into my lunch bag and taking the time to lay it on my lap, opening up all of my containers to appreciate the colors and giving thanks can make a hurried lunch at my desk a little more special. When I am home, lighting a candle and sitting down at the table without any distractions can make leftover soup seem like a feast. Remembering that food is more than calories, more than a necessity, makes is so much more satisfying.