I can still remember a sun ripened peach that I ate many years ago, having stopped at a roadside stand in Camargue. Even now, years later, my digestive juices start flowing, I smile, and I can almost smell the aroma of the peach as I bury my mouth in it, juice dripping down from its ripeness. I really tasted that peach : it is as if my cells opened up at that moment to the fullness and sweetness of the peach, to the sun and the air, the width of the sky and the landscape, and at that moment I tasted it all, and it nourished my body and my soul.
Sadly, a lot of the time we forget about that dimension to eating. Do you 'grab a bite' on a busy day? Do you eat what is good for you? Do you eat conscientiously and with political correctness? Do you have to eat something.? Are you about to start a diet/ on a diet/ waiting to go back on a diet ? If you say yes to any of these questions, chances are that you are a food vandal. That is, you feed the flesh, may be even scientifically, or macrobiotically - but you vandalise the senses. Instead of enjoying your food, of eating with all the senses alive and involved and letting the food you eat make your heart glad and brighten your spirit, all you do is feed the flesh.
Remember the utter and sheer delight of food ? The kind of abandon with which a baby will tuck onto the nipple and just savour the taste and feel and smell of it, and will play and gurgle and smile, and get heaven inside. The enjoyment of food that makes the body feel good, makes the heart sing and the soul glad to be alive in this world.
When was the last time you allowed yourself a total sense experience like that - with food? Probably not today - and yet, why not ? Why not indulge a bit more in the good things life has to offer ? Pleasure and delight are wonderful and really necessary for healthy living and well-being. The wars and atrocities around us at the moment are dreadful, and so is the starvation endemic in large parts of the world - but do you sincerely believe that by not enjoying that which you eat you can alleviate the suffering elsewhere?
Our current atitudes to food reflect our society's puritanical values and the anti-body line of some of the Christian teachings of old, more concerned with finding salvation by will and control, than by honouring life in all its glory. They also are shaped by a mechanical worldview, which has become outdated in modern physics but is still going strong in other areas of society. What you eat is important, but so is how you eat it, how much you enjoy it, and whom you eat it with. The best ingredients, correctly cooked, and eaten without joy will not do you much good - it is more important that the whole experience is delicious, and sends your digestive juices going ! Then your food will truly be transformed into life energy, to nourish all of you.
Recipe for Delight:
Choose ingeredients which interest you, and which look luscious/fresh/juicy/delicious - preferebly where the choosing sets your imagination and your tastebuds going.
Cook in a manner that gives you pleasure while doing it . Let yourself enjoy the act of cooking - maybe by doing a familiar dish you like, or the other/s enjoy, or by giving yourself permission to try out something quite new, just for the hell of it...
Set the table with attention to detail. A candle and flowers on the table do not have to be associated with seduction - allow yourself to lay the table so it gives you pleasure to sit down at it ! Beware, this can seriously enhance the taste of your food.
Serve the food with panache and a sense of delight - try out some new way of adding a little decoration here or there - the art of presentation is wonderfully developed in Japanese cooking for example where food is always cut in interesting shapes as well as displayed like a work of art.
Do this, whether you eat on your own, or with friends or family.