“Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.”
What more can you say about a life well lived than it was delicious? Pavarotti was quoted in his biography saying: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
The experience of eating quality food, spending mindful time choosing ingredients, and stopping all else to prepare them is as basic an act of deliberate living that exists.
How we feed ourselves throughout our day says more about how we function and live than anything else we do on a daily basis.
“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink,” said Epicurus, the Roman philosopher. Thousands of years ago, he reminded us that a significant portion of how we are nourished as we eat is in the company of people we care for. Studies and documentaries abound that demonstrate the bad effects of eating alone. Food without any preparation or attention is filler. It moves the body from one place to the next, which is more than many on this planet have. Thoreau wrote: “He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” Food nourishes when we have the time to taste it, with multiple senses and our full attention.
The experience of satiating our deepest physical hunger is located somewhere close in our brain to our sexual appetite. The more you have it, the more you want it. The orgasmic response has often been associated with food. Nourishing the body with food is like sex in that when it is good, it fills us on the physical, mental and emotional plane simultaneously. Without getting too religious, food and the act of nourishing oneself is basic to all spiritual traditions. Think of all the references to bread that religious texts contain. No wonder that James Beard, the famous chef said: “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!”
I cook food for many growing bodies and inspiring minds every day. As a parent, I have been thinking about how to nourish my offspring for over 20 years. I am sure that an astounding percentage of everything we have managed to produce in life, we have consumed in fine food. This is a natural cycle of life to aspire to. Making a nourishing life starts with eating one.