So much food to sample; so little time.
Ahhh, the foodie’s quandary. What’s a foodie,
I first heard the term from a European friend
who used it to describe himself about 20 years ago. Grocery
shopping with this man was a delight. He’d lift a plump
cantaloupe in the market, squeeze it gently, sniff it and
joyfully proclaim it ripe, while gazing at it reverently.
In the meat section of the market, he’d
paw through the beef until he found the most perfectly marbled
steak of the bunch. (“Not too lean, you need a little
fat to give it flavor,” he’d say.) He’d
hold the package as if cradling a newborn baby and declare
it “gorgeous.” To this suburban middle class American
girl who grew up in the 1960s and '70s on Rice-a-Roni, white
bread, casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup, and Velveeta,
all this hoo-ha about food was initially, well…bizarre,
Tell me, when was the last time, you gazed
at a brightly colored carrot with its green leafy top attached,
a perfectly grilled steak that you cooked outdoors, or the
ultimate slice of apple pie (not too mushy and runny, not
too crunchy with golden flaky crust made from scratch, and
vanilla ice cream just beginning to melt over the sides) and
marveled at its texture, color, and the way it feeeeeels in
your mouth as you slowly revel in that first bite?
Are you over the moon because you’re
sharing an amazing meal with your partner or a group of friends
or family? Are you mixing in a dash of laughter or conversation
with your meals? Are you focused on only the meal and the
company rather than multitasking? Do you see food as one of
life’s great joys rather than necessary fuel for your
If you’ve done this recently, congratulations,
you’re a foodie (in this writer’s opinion). If
you haven’t, I invite you to slowly and purposefully
give it a try. Sit down at a table (not at your desk). Arrange
your meal so it looks attractive on the plate (maybe add a
garnish for a splash of color?). Notice the food’s size
and shape. Breathe in its aroma and joyfully anticipate each
bite while giving thanks for the abundance you have before
you. Share a bite with a friend or lover. Savor each mouthful
slowly, mindfully, and gratefully. By the way, you can do
this with a peanut butter sandwich or you can do it with filet
mignon. That’s the beauty of being a foodie.
The way I see it, becoming a foodie doesn’t
have so much to do with your ability to cook, or your penchant
for fancy gourmet food, but rather your openness to all food
experiences and your willingness to partake in the great banquet
of life by surrounding yourself with people and sharing food
you love. It’s about balance, too.
This foodie enjoys her once-a-year Big Mac
or the occasional Ring Ding just as much as she enjoyed the
osso bucco, foie gras, and tuna tartare she ate last weekend
at a trendy eatery. And yes, this foodie will always love
the comfort food she grew up on (Campbell’s Tomato Soup
with Ritz Crackers, anyone?) because it evokes beautiful memories
of cold winter days spent playing in the snow, breaking only
for a warm lunch before playing some more.
Balance. Variety. Moderation. Beauty. Gratitude.
To heck with the carb police, I say! My European friend was
my model as I grew into a foodie. He never obsessed about
calories, fat, or content, he never over ate – he simply
enjoyed everything, without judgment or agenda. We Americans
aren’t always so good at that.
Fellow foodies and foodie wannabes, there
is so much out there to try. And today, it’s easier
than ever to find your favorite ethnic food at your local
grocery store or quickly order your favorite gourmet treat
online. My challenge to you this month is to try one new slightly
outrageous food item and buy one old comfort food item. Share
them with people you like. Savor it. Indulge. Feel the luxury
of enjoying a simple meal or a lovingly prepared dessert.
Approach each bite with childlike wonder as you chew slowly.
Congratulations, you’re now a foodie.
Copyright 2006, Ann Zuccardy.
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