If Heaven had a flavor ... it would be coffee.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Masticate With Joy!

Roger Ebert, reflecting  upon his surgeries that prevent him from eating, drinking, and speaking, stated that he doesn't miss eating or drinking.  What Roger misses is the ceremony of sitting down together with family and friends to share in a meal together.  He misses the experience of dining at a restaurant.  How often we take these things for granted.  We grab food and run.  We scarf without really tasting.  We eat standing in the kitchen, or in front of the tv. My  father taught his children to chew 25x per bite.  It is a difficult task, seemingly impossible for very long.  I think the point my father was making was to slow down, enjoy, experience.  One of my fondest childhood memories is sitting at the kitchen table with my father on Saturday mornings, following breakfast, and singing with him. 

While raising my small children it was, and still is, important to me not to place pans of food on the table, or dish up from the stove.  Napkins were folded by each plate, beautiful bowls of food placed on the table - even if it was just macaroni and cheese!  It would take just a minute to put the food in dishes, and with that the dining became an 'experience', not just a means to be fed.  Sometimes I would ask them to make place card holders with our names on them, and they had such joy in decorating those cards!  One time we had "Chinese" night, where there was chop suey, and we dressed in our robes!

Young children can learn to enjoy setting a table, and take pride in "how pretty" it looks.  There can be matching napkins, a single flower in a vase, colorful centerpieces, placemats, table cloths, leaves for Fall, and confetti for a birthday dinner. Fill a hollowed out little pumpkin with fall stems and flowers. The point is to teach them while they're young to appreciate the ceremony of dining together.  It is just my 20 year old daughter and I living together now, but we still always use placemats, sometimes a candle, sometimes wine.  Sunday evenings I cook when she is at work.  When she arrives home - whether it's 6pm, or 9pm, we sit and dine together.  We talk about our week.  We commune.

Much of what we do involves the celebration of breaking bread together.  Whether it is cooking out, having a business dinner, the state fair, a birthday cake, communion.  I'll bet that Roger Ebert doesn't take much for granted these days.  I'm sure he appreciates all that he can see with his eyes, all that he can hear with his ears, and all that he touches with his hands, more so than you and I.  Today in the news I read about a man that was released from prison after 18 years on death row.  The first thing he did was stand in the rain for an hour.  He had not felt the rain in 18 years. 


Food is the poetry
of the mouth,
in its combinations comes
the exquisite tastes of life.

In delicate preparations,
the master chef
pours his heart out,
an exquisite art form.

Time honored tradition,
dedicated for human pleasure,
delivering music in its consumption,
arousing sense of taste.

In a mixture of spices,
the sweet blending,
simmering treasure of innovation,
sparkling liquor of interaction,
the notes come together
in a meal of perfection.
D. Lester Young

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Using the Internet to Get Off the Internet

They prevent loneliness and the doldrums.  They cultivate new interests and expand your horizons.  There is the possibility of deep friendships, and love interests.  You can find the perfect one for you if you are timid and most comfortable on the sidelines, or unrestrained and intrepid.  You can find others of like-mind whether you are a cork dork, foodie, video gamer, kite flyer.  There are others that are laughaholics, and board gamers, movie goers, or book readers.  Breakfast your favorite meal?  Coffee your passion?  Want to learn how to dance?  There is every imaginable meetup group available to you, and if you don't find the perfect fit - it's easy to start your own!        

I came across meetup by accident one day on my way to looking for a book group to join.  Immediately I was wide-eyed and giddy.  Recent changes in my life left me the opportunity to explore a community not available to me before.  I was hooked.  The first meetup I joined was for classy broads.  I think you had to be sassy too, so I figured it would be a good fit.  It was.  I was nervous when going to my first outing, even though it was just brunch with a bunch of broads at my favorite restaurant.  What I found surprised me.  The gals were like me - just a bunch of women looking to get out and get together to share and listen and eat.  Some networked to find jobs, some worked out of their homes and used meetup as a way to get out of the house.  Others were looking for friendships, some to eliviate lonliness.  I walked away from that meetup with not only a full stomach, but with a sense of connection.  I could see that my world could getting larger and the possibilities were endless through meetup.                                            

Since that first day nine months ago, I have joined 8 meetups and am learning what to look for when smelling a cork, how to balance sushi on two sticks and get it all in my mouth in one take, who the premier comedians are in the Twin Cities, and the art of fine salsa steps.  I have developed deep friendships, met hysterically funny men, and learned that we are all looking for the same thing - just another opportunity to get out and meet a few interesting people, learn a little, and laugh a lot. 

That day, on my way to looking for a bookclub online, I found how terrific people are offline. 

Here is a letter, sent by the CEO of meetup, to all of it's 10 million members.  I found it fascinating.

Fellow Meetuppers,
I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is 
special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many 
people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.
Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles 
from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought 
local community doesn't matter much if we've got the internet 
and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I 
hoped they wouldn't bother me.
When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors 
in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to 
neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally 
ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each 
other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being 
A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring 
people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was 
born: Could we use the Internet to get off the Internet -- and 
grow local communities?
We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a 
crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make 
people distrust one another.
A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months 
after 9/11.
Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's 
working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, 
Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups... a wild variety of 
100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one 
Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to 
neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me. 
They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and 
motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find 
other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace 
together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's 
powerful stuff.
It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks 
to everyone who shows up.
Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it 
weren't for 9/11.
9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to 
strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new 
community together!!!!
The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started 
with these Meetups.
Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)
Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup
New York City
September 2011

Meetup, PO Box 4668 #37895             
New York, New York 10163-4668 

                         You no longer have to put up with
                        mean people, because you think they
                      are your only friends.  There is Meetup.