I don’t know how to eat.
You’d think after some 50,000 meals that I’ve had in my lifetime I would have figured out this eating thing. It’s not the physical act of ingesting food that’s got me stumped. It’s not the chewing, and my fork skills are excellent.
It’s the tasting.
Food, for the most part, is something that I simply consume. It’s no different than regular unleaded is to my Honda Accord. When the tank gets empty it’s time to refuel. Spending a great deal of my time on the road affords me the opportunity to sample a wide variety of not-so-good-for-you fast foods. Far too many of my meals begin with a static-filled conversation involving a speaker and a window.
EXCUSE #1 I rationalize my eating habits by invoking the reliable “I don’t have the time” excuse. I call that Excuse #1. Just far too much to do today and for every remaining day of my life. “No time to sit down and enjoy a real lunch…I don’t have the time.” I’m really good at Excuse #1.
For someone who eats far too much fast food, I tend to watch a lot of the Food Network. I don’t really cook that much because…(insert Excuse #1 here). I am always amazed with what I consider the extravagant extremes of some of the recipes being prepared. My favorites recipe extremist is chef Bobby Flay. To support my claim, I offer as evidence two menu items that can be found on his website: “Fried Chicken and Wild Rice Pancakes with Pink Peppercorn Butter and Maple-Horseradish Syrup” and the “Grilled White Corn Taco with BBQ Pork Loin, Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes, and Tomatillo-Red Pepper Relish.” Wow. And those are just the names of the dishes…imagine the presentation!
I never understood “fancy” food. The range of my palate is best described as being equal to a box of Crayola crayons. A very small box of Crayola crayons. Blue is simply blue, yellow is simply yellow, and green is simply just green. For me, food is either good or it’s not. Not the evaluative credentials that will get me hired as a food critic any time soon.
INTIMATE DETAILS I am amazed, though, how a chef can stick his pinky into a sauce pan and identify every ingredient in the pan with a single lick of his finger. His highly developed palate makes that possible. Much like a sommelier being able to describe the character and nuance of a particular wine. The chef and the sommelier have both developed their palates to an advanced point where they are able to discern the most intimate details with a single taste.
It’s all about the intimate details.
What gifted chefs and sommeliers do that I don’t do is taste. I mean really taste. In the moment that the food or drink is being tasted, nothing else matters. They are fully present, aware only of what they are tasting at that moment. Their intense presence combined with their trained palates affords them the opportunity to fully extract and identify all the layers of flavor, the textures, and the contrasts contained within each bite or sip.
CELEBRATE THE NUANCE In our never ending journey to get wherever it is we feel the need to get to, our lives can take on a fast food quality. Each day just another step on the Stairway to Someplace Else. Each day mindlessly morphing into the next. Life, with fries. Next window, please.
Life wasn’t designed to be consumed. Life was designed to be tasted, to fully extract the layers of flavor, the textures, and the contrasts of the moments of our lives. That can only happen when we are fully present in each of the moments of our lives. No tomorrow. No yesterday. Just now. Right here. Given the chance, our senses will provide us with all we’ll need to celebrate the nuances of each moment.
Are you fully extracting the flavors, textures, and contrasts of your life?
ACTION PLAN The first step is stopping. Find yourself at any given moment and just stop. Just for a moment. Invoke the senses and simply observe what you see, smell, hear, and feel. No need for judgement. Let be what is. Just be fully present in this moment. Allow the moment to take you where it may. Then offer the universe a message of thanks and gratitude.
Repeat this stopping and observing process several times each day. Schedule selected times each day if you need to and put it in your planner. Repetition creates habits, and soon stopping and observing will become second nature. You’ll soon be awash in appreciation of all that you are and all that you have in your life.
Living Half Full means living fully present. It is only when we are fully present that we will see and celebrate all that it is we already have in our lives. No need to be climbing the Stairway to Someplace Else when you come to fully appreciate where you are right now.
Bobby Flay’s “extreme” culinary creations are a celebration of flavors, textures, and contrasts. Celebrate the flavors, textures, and contrasts of your life.
Reconnect with your own intimate details.
It’s a great day to be you!