Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Taste of Reality

As a response or an understanding or a return to forever, there is a taste of reality.


We eat to sustain our being but the act of consumption is more than self-survival.
The act of selecting, preparing, devouring, storing and cleaning plant and animal is beyond simple nourishment. Food is a massive part of our social interaction.
When gathering for parties, we bring food to share. When meeting a friend, we dine together. When meeting a stranger, the safest location is a restaurant, bistro, deli, or even diner.
Sometimes we eat to cover neuroses or just out of boredom. Sometimes we eat because everyone else is or because it is time to eat.
Watching someone bite, chew and swallow is not more attractive than the activity to purge the remains from our bodies, so it must be the conversation that draws us together for meals. The fact is the best cut of meat or the freshest produce does not taste any better when eaten alone.
Media blast us with new methods to cook or fry or slice or present food. Marketing is constantly delivering new variations in brightly color packages. Reviews of local eateries entice us to visit and enjoy the dining experience while paying more for the service.
Yet the basics of grain, meat, vegetable, fruit, and water remain the same. Only the successful process of preparation and social interaction make the activity enjoyable.
Now hunger does play a factor. When the body has been deprived of nourishment, almost any food will taste better. A starving person will eat snails, entrails, or puppy dog tails without question of palate consideration.
Health professional organizations have always offered dietary recommendations. The children learn in school about the food groups, but in the cafeteria the trays are filled with what the young have been taught to eat, not what is good for them.
The evolution of fast food, with the ease of cheap payment for sugar coated, sodium filled, fat saturated faux food has appeared in my lifetime. Going to a sit down restaurant was a big deal; a family occasion to gather and be served from choices cooked by professional and served by people in high dress on china plates with linen napkins. The substance would pass but the experience remained.
Certain combination of food can spark a memory of a special moment, an event with friends, or a gathering of friends sharing a meal, but even the most detailed recipe following with stringent measurements can not equal the memory.

So the question of personal taste preferences comes to mind.
After shopping and cooking and eating and cleaning for a while now, I have settled on a list of produce, vegetables and grains that seem to be adequate in taste, price while maintaining a feeling of good health. Desserts, chips, soft drinks, meat, prepared frozen foods are not on my list so the aisles can be passed without remorse. Without a nearby farmer’s market, the daily visit provides the freshest produce, with only enough to be used and not stored.

Without monetary restrictions, many fine items I could purchase for self-gratification somehow do not excel in my personal requirements of easy preparation and quick clean up.
Like fresh coffee, ground from the freshest beans, brewed in mountain stream water until the perfected strength is acquired; sweetened and mellowed to taste and cherished in it’s warm comfort, the amount of effort outweighs the desired results. In the end it is the recognized habit of drinking hot, dirty water to give us a kick-start the morning that I continue to follow, but a mellow instant fulfills the conventional tradition.
And when the coffee runs out, tea will suffice or even tap water can be easily substituted without any withdrawal symptoms.

Some say it is a acquired taste, like selecting a fine wine, but it is an individual decision to cut an apple and be fulfilled or drive to a cinder block building for overpriced “food” in wrappers served by uneducated people in paper hats.
Now the decision comes for the big football weekend. Since it will be cold and rainy here, I think I will prepare a large pot of something for the next week…. But what? Potatoes, carrots, onions are all good choices, beans are always possible, and perhaps some sort of killed and sliced animal. The recent five days of chili did not bore me (for I can happily eat the same thing day after day) but perhaps something else.

If nothing else, preparation does pass the time in this sweet, short life.

I’ll mull it over with a cabernet sauvignon and Gouda cheese.

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