Food as an experience

Food is important to me. I want my food to taste good, to look good, usually to be ethically grown or raised, and I prefer to share my meals with friends and family. I don’t shun the occasional fast food or quick meal, and certainly, during the school year, I resort to many quick-fix recipes. But if I had my druthers, I’d eat like I had a Food Network show every meal.

It’s the fourth of July and the first thing I focus on is not fireworks, but food. I often turn to traditional opens like hamburgers and hot dogs, but add a twist of something new. I don’t want to just throw food on a plate. And yet, at holiday times, I often find myself in the company of those for whom food is merely fuel for the next activity. I never know quite how to handle myself when faced with few or poor food options. Sometimes the food is fine, but there’s a utilitarian approach to the meal. You eat for 10 seconds and then move on. There’s no lingering over dessert and coffee or the last sip of wine.

It’s one reason I enjoy traveling. Most places I’ve been, food is central to a way of life, and it’s to be savored and appreciated even when the food itself is humble. Meals are occasions to get to know people or reflect on the day. They’re almost never a means to an end. They are an end in themselves.

I guess I want my food to always be an experience or part of a larger experience. When it’s not, the larger experience it might be a part of is lessened.

Today I have plans for seasoned burgers with all the trimmings, and a fresh fruit salad. It’s a simple meals that will be shared. Whether it’s an experience or not . . . We can only hope.

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