Do we live to eat or eat to live? Given a choice between obsession/preoccupation or thriving/surviving, common sense swings to the right. Any time we live exclusively for temporal things, we risk imbalance. Yet anticipating a good meal is exhilarating! And who wants nutrition to be joyless? Can we strike a balance here?
LIVE TO EAT?
The Food Network and Cooking Channel both spotlight experts who have made preoccupation an occupation! Recently, I watched Giada De Laurentiis sample her Grilled Chicken and Avocado Napoleons. Giada aired approving moans as she crunched into a double-decked, puff pastry sandwich layered with grilled chicken, avocado, fresh spinach, and cayenne mayonnaise. She was the master juggler of food and thought as she dabbed drips from her chin.
There is no way Giada and her comrades simply eat to live. They embrace mealtime as a celebration of texture, flavor, aroma, visual appeal, and good company.
EAT TO LIVE?
The Bible lays a foundation for healthy eating: whole foods, consuming animals that graze, and avoiding all creatures classified as scavengers. The Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets most resemble this guideline and their food is far from boring.
Eating is so sensory and full of surprises. It's no wonder that some people get carried away with their passion for it. For instance...
Q: The New Yorker described you as someone who eats "slowly" in "small, tidy bites." What should we infer from that?A: That I want my meals to last forever.—Maureen Down interviewing Nora Ephron; New York Times, August 2009
I worked my way through all the food on the platter, all the samosas, then finally, completely abandoning myself, licked the platter itself, and even that had a complex nutty flavor, the flakes of crust melting in my mouth.—Daniyal Mueenuddin on returning to the family farm in Pakistan; in The New Yorker, December 3, 2012