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