“We can never know about the days to come but we think about them anyway.” ~ Carly Simon
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve “looked forward to food” — good food. By the time I was three, my penchant for the finer-tasting things in life had evolved into a habit. Every time we’d go to Grandma’s house, I’d ask her for a cookie. (No hugs and pleasantries first; my mind was set on the sheer joy of biting into whatever goodie-of-the-week had just emerged from her oven.)
My folks were chagrined; it was apparent that their middle child had missed the whole point of these Sunday afternoon outings — we were there to visit, not just to eat — and they did their best to redirect my enthusiasm. They instructed, reminded, and cajoled.
When those tactics didn’t work, they appealed to my nobler sensibilities: “It’s not polite to ask for food!”
I had an opportunity to consider this newly proffered wisdom on the next trip to Grandma’s. Although the road was straight as an arrow, I’d come to a “fork” and it was time to choose a path.
Once our family-mobile (a pale green Chevy Impala the size of a barge) lurched to a stop in Grandma’s driveway, I scrambled out of the back seat, scurried up the steps, bolted through the front door (past Grandma) and skidded to a halt in the middle of her gray linoleum kitchen floor, eye-high with five dozen gingersnaps cooling on the counter. After inhaling their spice-laden aroma with an audible sniffff…, I reverently declared: “Mmmmm, something smells good…”
After which, Grandma promptly offered me a cookie.
The Path Of Anticipation is rich in rewards. ~
There are pivotal points in everyone’s culinary journey and this was one of my earlier ones. What a difference it made! After that, instead of squelching my “food enthusiasm,” Mom and Dad just shook their heads at my ineffable spirit and smiled. A foodie was born. And nurtured.
Delectable tidbits may stimulate the appetite, but anticipation nurtures culinary pleasure.
Not be be confused with anxiousness or expectation, anticipation is an appealing combination of “recollection and hope”… it enhances an imminent experience based on cumulative experience. (A déjà vu premonition, if you will.) While it can be applied to a number of situations in life (the way I live life, actually), this post centers on food — good food — and no other word comes close to describing the before, during, and after effect that anticipation evokes.
Have I eaten this before? Will it taste the way I remember it? Is this a “first” for me? Did I make it differently this time? Will I make it again? Does it remind me of a particular person, place or meal? If so, was it a pleasant memory? If not, how can I make peace with it to fully enjoy this moment?
In a nutshell: “How did/does/will this food make me feel?”
I don’t mean “instant gratification,” though. Anticipation takes patience — I call that anticipatience :) — and the thorough enjoyment of food, whether it’s a morsel or a meal, begins long before the first bite.
Food has the remarkable ability to engage all five senses. It can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted — hooray! It also provides multiple opportunities to interact, from shopping cart to prep to dinner plate.
Think of the deep red hue of a sun-ripened tomato… the “snap” of a fresh asparagus spear… the intoxicating fragrance of garlic and spices as they weave their way into a sauce… the slightly-yielding firmness of a fuzzy peach… the exhilarating explosion of flavors as a tantalizing fork-full hits your tastebuds…..
So, how do you incorporate it into your culinary journey? (Bear in mind, this is not medical advice… simply things that worked for me along the way.)
Start by cleaning your pantry — not the one in your kitchen, the one you’ve carried around from birth to now. Consider your perceptions about food… are they yours? Have you adopted attitudes (or even “family recipes”) that no longer suit you? Life’s too short to eat other people’s food! What do you want to eat? Define your preferences.
Next, add anticipation to your grocery list — no more mindless trips through the aisles! Be deliberate about your food selection — left or right? Choose food that appeals to you, food that makes you look forward to eating. Let your senses be your guide.
Then, when it’s time to prepare a meal, engage your senses once again. Accept their open invitation to play! Don’t just “make” food — participate. Admire, sniff, nibble, listen, feel… have fun!
Allow me to interject a sixth sense here: hunger. Without it, food can’t be fully enjoyed, or anticipated. (Which explains why I often eat dessert first…) Hunger is a “gut” feeling. Is my stomach full? Empty? Sort of? Pay attention to its cues! I don’t find food pleasurable when: A) I’m eating for the wrong reasons — stress, fatigue, emotions, etc.; or B) I’m not taking care of my body in the manner it deserves.
Of course this post wouldn’t be replete without some perspective from the trucking years… :)
For nearly a decade, I ate sporadically because of delivery schedules and warehouse hours, or a thousand miles between here and there, or finding a “closed” sign in a restaurant window at the only truck stop in sight. While it’s possible to eat well on the run (and many folks do), I often put my hunger “on hold” or ignored it’s cues altogether — and I ended up throwing the whole thing out of whack. My body was confused about when it wanted to eat, what it wanted to eat and why it wanted to eat.
Now, I take time to consider where hunger fits into my journey. I nurture my body by welcoming true hunger and revel in satisfying it with a much-anticipated meal. I also take time — make time — to enjoy it. Good food is worth the effort. Not to sound like L’Oréal, but I’m worth it… and so are you!
Finally, after every meal (or morsel), pause to savor this moment… because it nurtures the next one.
The path awaits. Anticipate pleasure.
Enjoying the rewards,
Thank you for joining me on this first “Fork In The Road!” Where are you on The Path Of Anticipation?