I have an unwritten agreement with my doctor (I must be careful here, he may be reading this – Yeah, sure!) – I am a diabetic with other “issues”, and when he and I get to discussing diet, I flat out tell him that there are several things I’m not going to exclude from my diet – even though I know he’d rather I did. Good bread is one of those things – a non-fear of fats is another.
I don’t overdose on either of the above, but then, an overweight diabetic doesn’t need to, to quickly be in too deep. So I ration my daily doses – only occasionally sliding over the edge. I don’t buy good bread – there’s almost nowhere here for me to do that – so I bake my own. And I am one of those strangely fortunate people who, although they consume more fats than the norm, do not have cholesterol or clogged artery issues. These are very lucky situations for a foodie – I’m not sure what I’d do if I couldn’t commit these sins in the name of culinary pleasure.
Which brings me to the question of the day – “How do you know if you are more obsessed with food, and its taste, than others?” I think it’s a good question, because I think I may be – actually, I know I am, but I have no idea of just how bad others may be. But I do see the evidence daily that the mass of humanity has no more interest in eating things which send one into culinary bliss than they have in donating a quart of blood every day. Were this not true, we’d not be a “fast-food” nation, instead we’d be a nation of gourmands – a “slow-food” nation. But, alas, we are not – not even close.
I recently had an experience which drove home to me just how much distance there is between ourselves here in the U.S. I was meeting with one of our local hospital’s dietitians, and I told her I made my own soup – she was amazed! (Right there I should have excused myself and left) She asked me many questions about making soup, which I thought rather strange, but I answered anyway. I told her that when I made chicken soup, I cooked it for a real long time, strained it, and threw away the remaining solids. She asked if that included the cooked chicken meat, and I said, Yes. She proceeded to infer that I must be stupid not to use the cooked meat for some other purpose, if not at least as part of the soup itself. I told her that it was a matter of taste, and that once a chicken is cooked for three hours, the meat has no taste anymore – it’s all in the soup. She just stared at me in disbelief.
I’ve thought a lot about that meeting many times since – BTW, I haven’t bothered to have any more of those meetings – I figure when I meet a dietitian who loves food, then I’ll be able to listen to them. But I find it simply amazing that a person would somehow choose to go into a field of medicine that had to do with “eating”, and not love food themselves. Shouldn’t this be a requirement? I think so.
But you know, that meeting taught me as much about myself as about the dietitian – I was reminded that we must be driven by our own internal values, in order to achieve any kind of personal satisfaction. Sometimes, when I talk to people, I realize the last thing on their mind is what they’re going to have for dinner that night. But me – my whole day revolves around eating – planning meals, getting raw ingredients, working the garden, going to the market, baking or cooking, and in between all that are the conjunctive, creative food thoughts which tie all the rest together. For it’s often the inspiration out of the blue that brings the most pleasure – Where did that come from? It came out the mixing pot in your brain – and the only reason it came at all, is because you/I live a food-centric life. It is our art of life.
I heard recently a reference to the role that good food played in turn-of-the-century France, where it was mentioned lunches were often 3 hours long, and the subject during that time was what they would all have for dinner that night! Immediately I thought how wonderful it would have been to live in that culture and time – even if what you did to survive was to work in a restaurant. What joy that atmosphere must have sustained, and for all – not just a few.
Alas – we are creatures of the Fast Food Age – and we make the most we can out of that. So, what are you having for dinner tonight? And, oh yeah – do you ever make chicken soup?