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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Let's Feast!

I tend to see magic, spirituality, and love as the essence of all essential things. Perhaps you remember this excerpt from an earlier entry?

I’m grateful for all living things. The souls that sacrificed their own potential so that I may live. The nuts and seeds that never grew so that I might; the lamb that stretched its neck to Heaven and the blade; the birds that gave up flight so that I may someday fly. I am grateful for all the souls, every one as worthy as my own, that filled my gut that made the blood that fueled my heart and filled my brain that gave me the sense, the wonder and the awe to praise the souls that sacrificed so much.

Preparing food…and breaking bread with others is, at its finest, a spiritual experience.

I am an unrepentant omnivore. I relish sampling the bounty of the earth. We humans (through a great deal of trial and error, no doubt) have identified all that is edible. I want to sample all before I die. I don’t have prejudices when it comes to food. If it’s edible, I’ll eat it (assuming it’s prepared well or, at the very least, passably...and the creature was not someone’s pet). I’m the sort who will invariably order something from the menu that I’ve never tasted before. I want to taste everything! I want to surprise my taste buds whenever I can. I relish the cuisines of all cultures. I enjoy the aromas, textures, spice and exquisite serendipities of flavors.

Life is a banquet. I enjoy feasting.

I love fresh foods…farmers’ markets. I envy the Asians and Europeans, all those who can buy fresh meats, fish, breads, cheeses, fruit and produce in open air markets on their walk home from work.

Oh, how I wish I could live like that!

I have been both a hunter and a fisherman. It’s not that I relish blood sports but, if I am to eat the flesh of another living being, I’d rather do honor to the creature, myself, rather than have my sustenance prepared by machines or faceless laborers and then swaddled in plastic. It’s a matter of respect.

I’m quite adept at feeding myself. When cooking solely for myself, I eat sparingly. I do not use recipes, preferring to experiment with my food (playing, if you will). I love unlikely pairings of ingredients, the magic of spices and, most of all, simplicity. (Give me a succulent peach and I’m happy!)

True joy may be found in cooking for others. On such occasions, I pore over recipes trying to find something that my guest(s) might savor. I don’t mind complex recipes, then. I kinda groove on testing my meager culinary skills for the benefit of my guests. I’ll confess, though, that sharp knives and whirling blades, mandolins and graters scare me. My culinary (ahem) masterpieces often come tinged with a bit of my blood (I dream of, someday, participating in a culinary class in Tuscany or Provence).

Confession: I can’t bake. I don’t have a “feel” for it.

I envy chefs who have an almost a mystical reverence for food. I regard master chefs with absolute awe. Their awareness, creativity and encyclopedic knowledge of foods and food preparation inspire me. I enjoy dining at truly fine restaurants, on select occasions, in order to taste foods and food combinations I could never create on my own.

I’ve had incredible, memorable meals (sometimes in the unlikeliest of places). I will forever savor those memories.

I believe families come to be bound together at the dinner table. The evening dinners in my childhood home melded hearts and sated hungers.

I believe love can blossom over a shared dessert.

* * *

If, perchance, this entry has left you hungering for more, I suggest you run out and rent any one, or (better yet) all of these films:

Babette’s Feast
Like Water for Chocolate
Eat Drink Man Woman
Tortilla Soup
Big Night (thanks, Anna!)

They’ll leave you feeling satisfied. Trust me.

* * *

Please, don’t get me started on the subject of wine…or cheese.


Blogger Snowqueen said...

Ah! Babette's incredible film. I love cooking but I rarely do it for myself, I need to have someone enjoy it. I grew up in a family with two parents, six brothers and four sisters (and yes we are Catholic!) and so the concept of breaking bread within a community is life-forming and life-affirming for me. It is the thing I have missed most since I left home in my early twenties. Sharing a meal is one of the most intimate things we can do for each other. As I believe that preparing a meal is a sign of love and reverence for the person I am cooking for then I do oft' stop and ponder why I therefore do not prepare a lovely meal for someone equally!

Thu May 03, 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yes, Your Highness, I believe we should all treat ourselves to a fine home-cooked meal...often.

Thu May 03, 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Sunny Delight said...

The simplest of pleasures....

Preparing a meal for those we love, is one of my favorite experiences, sharing that meal is even better.

The scenes in Chocolat, portraying the creative process of the making of the deliciously, beautiful confections, seemed magical to me.

It seems you have the soul of a poet, and a gourmand.

Thu May 03, 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

A gourmand I'm not. A glutton for joy? Most definitely!

Thu May 03, 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gillette said...

Babette's Feast!!! My all time very favorite film. I own it, I watch it at least twice a year. I cry every time, it makes my heart sing like no other.

Thanks for the's time to watch it again.

Thu May 03, 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger deb said...

Sadly I cannot say I feel the same about food. I eat to fill my stomach. I'm a picky eater and come from a family of picky eaters. Something about being a super taster.

The way you talk about food though, would convince me to try things, you make the food sound quite enticing.

I've seen all the movies but Babette's Feast, I'll have to rent it.

Thu May 03, 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Babette will move you, Deb...she most assuredly will.

Thu May 03, 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

"Please, don’t get me started on the subject of wine…or cheese." heheh

What time is supper??

Thu May 03, 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

"What time is supper??"

Whenever you decide to climb off that whizz-bang tractor of yours and come in to sup.

Thu May 03, 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

Whenever there is a family gathering, it always involves food - lots of it and a wide variety. No matter if it was a gathering of 3 or 300, guests were always offered food. My husband (not Italian) thought this odd when he first started getting to know my family. Now he craves it and often requests a trip to my parents' home just so he can experience that wonderful feeling of community and feast on my mother's delicious cooking. He has even been insisting that I learn how to prepare some of the foods she prepares before it's too late.

I think Big Night might be a good movie to add to your list.

Sat May 05, 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Ah, yes...Big Night...thanks for reminding me of that little gem, Anna.

If we add your film to the list, we'll have a veritable smorgasbord of food and cultures: Danish/French, French, Hispanic, Chinese, East LA Latino and Italian...and all so very human!

Sat May 05, 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

One more comment:

I wonder if anyone can watch Big Night without craving an omelette afterwards?

(Yep, my head is filled with thoughts like that...)

I'd also want hash browns to go with that's an intensely personal thing (don't ask).

Oh...oh...wait!!!! I just flashed on the remembrance that Rick Bayless (of PBS's "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" fame) offers a Valentine's Day special pris fixe menu at his wondrous restaurant, Topolomambo, that consists of courses from Like Water for Chocolate!


Mon May 07, 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Fiona said...

To add to the movie about The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover?

mmmmm omelette...mmmm hash browns...I can definitely envisage that food marriage...drools

Mon May 07, 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Um...sorry, no, Fiona. That film absolutely killed my appetite.

Mon May 07, 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Snowqueen said...

Galileo once beautifully referrred to wine as 'light held together by moisture'. I can think of no greater compliment to give to the nectar of the Gods...and this from someone who is not even a drinker as such.

Mon May 07, 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

And Robert Louis Stevenson opined:

"Wine is bottled poetry."

Mon May 07, 06:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Roads said...

You're collecting quite a hungry audience here, Jonas.

Thirsty, too.

A deep gutsy red from the fiery vineyards of Provence is in my mind now, after all that food.

And it's only just 8 in the morning. And I'm on the train to work, as well. But hey, life is for living, don't you agree ?

So scrap that skinny latte this morning, waiter !

Wed May 09, 02:31:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

It's always a pleasure to have you drop by, Roads.

I've grown rather fond of red Zinfandels...

Given that our repast has been so hearty, though, how about a well-aged Port with a few slivers of Stilton cheese, and a slice or two of apple?

Bon appetit!

Or, as the Lithuanians say:

Valgyk ir norek!

Wed May 09, 10:45:00 AM  

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