Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Food in History and in literature.


“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Throughout our history food has played a vital part of our lives … obviously right?  Hello, we cannot live without nourishment.  Looking into some of the great works in literature I have found many references to food and what I found beautiful was these writers, these artists of word found the same thing that those who truly love to dine find …. Food is the beauty; it is color of life.   

 My point is that we cannot truly LIVE without a love for food.  It is embedded in our culture for so many reasons they cannot be counted.  Thanksgiving, Easter Feast, gatherings of friends and so on.  Even the denial of food is historical … fasting!  We go to dinner to ask our for our love’s heart and future.  We celebrate festivals for whatever and the food is a vital part.  We eat for nourishment certainly, but we dine for pleasure and it is that beauty in food and what comes from time spent in that manner that is important.  And since the time that humans began writing stories they talked about food and what I find really groovy is the way they describe food and eating.  Take this quote from Chaucer ….

Well loved he garleek, oynons, and eek lekes. And for to drinken strong wyn, reed as blood”, Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales. 

I believe we are two people; some of us never figure this out or let it matter and they are unfortunate. The first is one who eats purely to rejuvenate their body; the second nourishes to rejuvenate their lives. Obviously I am of the later mindset.  I do not believe in fast food unless completely necessary.  I do not think we should rush through a meal in 30 minutes and while I sometimes find myself eating quickly in my kitchen it is the meals I enjoy with time that make my life better.  That’s right!  Make my life wonderful, create situations for great conversations, allow us to try things we would not normally try and   now for ourselves what we like and why.  Anyway, just found it ironic that many of our great writers over time have mentioned food in a way that signifies it is more than just a meal or to nourish our bodies.  I do not think you need to be an artist, or "left brained" to enjoy the power of food in our lives.  You just need to slow down, take a moment and realize that the moment you are in, the table setting and the meal before you is a time for rejoicing life, your life and hopefully with those who bring you joy.

How about the healing powers of food?  Do we not symbolize this it not a good gesture to bring a friend a bowl of soup when they are fighting an illness? We give a meal when someone dies; everyone brings something for the wake ... why?  Because food makes thing better, it unites us, brings forth a better time.  And yes, it was written many years ago in great literature and this quote makes that point.

“And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.” 
John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

In the end we all have a choice … to dine or to eat!

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