In the “Eat to Live” vs. “Live to Eat” categories, I’m all about the latter. I even have a title for a never-to-be-written memoir: Killing Time Between Meals. I once had a girlfriend in college who claimed that I preferred food to sex. I dunno about all that…
Anyway, until recently, my feeling about those who didn’t dig eating was of the “they don’t know what they’re missing” mindset, thinking about the visceral pleasure of consuming good food, but it’s occurred to me of late that eating well doesn’t just bring pleasure in the moment but an overall sense of contentment in life.
Food therapy? Could be…
This notion came to me as I was shaping my latest novel, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure. The main character, a disheartened American, arrives in Italy on holiday and decides he never wants to leave. A big part of his motivation is the reality that one can eat very, very well in Italy every day at every meal (with exquisite wine!), at reasonable prices.
It helps that my character has a “golden palate” and a profound connection to the sensory pleasure of eating that is rooted in a motherless and itinerant adolescence paired with the potential of ancestral redemption in Italy, but still…the food is so good!!!
I’ve lived in Italy on two occasions and visited many times on vacation and/or assignment. When I think of Italy, and all of its splendor, Dario Cecchini comes to mind. He is considered the “World’s Most Famous Butcher” and is, to me, the face of Italy. And what a face: handsome and bulging with enthusiasm and kindness.
He’s a massive man of blood and bone and flesh infused with passion to the square inch. I met Dario over 20 years ago and have never known a happier person, and his life is dedicated to food, of raising animals with genuine care and respecting their sacrifice to our sustenance through loving preparation of every usable part and the pure enjoyment of consumption. Dario is legendary among the food world’s elite and his story is most thoroughly told in season 6 episode two of A Chef’s Table.
And Dario is not alone. The joy of eating is common all over Italy and all other food-centric parts of the world. You ever met a melancholy foodie?
Food people are happy people. They are among those who covet experience over possessions, and the experience of eating – especially among the company of friends & family – can be enjoyed multiple times a day. Every day. And that joy extends beyond the table and into the more prosaic moments in life.
I’ll take a good meal (washed down with copious amounts of wine) with people I care about over just about anything. Maybe that college girlfriend of mine was right…