Thursday, May 26
The Art of Eating
There's just an urgency. Sometimes, when you're in your apartment and even though you've been out walking that morning, when it was quiet, when shutters were closed and the last cigarette butt hit the gutter at 5am, you still feel impatient to have the experience that only this day could ever be. And so you're sitting in the sun on your balcony eating a bowl of sliced banana, green apple, raisin, coconut and lemon juice while you watch all the people strolling under your home, who you never thought you’d experience the feeling of jealously over, but they’re all out there, in that wonder of not Paris in the spring time (as a fond friend of mine, Frank, would sing), but amongst all those other people living this strange, strange life of being a person made up of experiences.
This takes you out on your very first experience of going to lunch, to a lovely restaurant, on your own to eat magret de canard and sip a glass of Bordeaux over two hours of people watching and writing. And when you look at those bread baskets filled with real French baguette, it makes you want to lean in towards the table beside you and just like Meryl Streep from Julie and Julia exclaim, “French people, eat French food, everyday!”
And they get to eat it slowly....
Which is something that is lost today; this art of eating.
Every morning at work we all eat breakfast together. Chefs come out from their hot sticky rooms filled with high gas stoves, pastry chefs pull their cakes out of the ovens and glaze the morning scones, servers finish wiping the tables for our very first customers of the morning and we all pull out our chairs, pour granola, soy milk and our very own store-made jam into our bowls. Most of us rapidly speed through breakfast to get back to our jobs as customers come in timidly asking if we are open (wondering why we are all sitting down, chatting and eating breakfast together at 8:30 in the morning). But one of the owners seems to embrace the pleasure of eating at the table with us. His bread leisurely lies in front of him while he sips his tea and then causally picks up his knife to spread a centimeter of butter over his toast, followed by just a 'taste' of raspberry jam. This moment of sitting down around a table with people he sees every day will not be lost on him.
Sarah, on the evening of lemon and mint risotto, re-reminded me about the experience of food being for the experience of people. Never before had I sat and eaten a meal at such a slow pace...
And it was brilliant.
The missing time constraint allows every nibble to become involved. There was opportunity for my taste buds to wrap around every flavour. My body relaxed, legs; leant down under the table and rested on my side-turned feet, hands sat on my lap and shoulders were light against the back of the chair. And I realized then, in that moment of loving being so occupied by what was going on, that it's all about the intermission between each morsel. Because in that intermission, you get the most important task of asking the person sitting in the chair directly opposite you, to share a tiny part of their story. And that person then becomes heard.
And even if there is no one there to share this occasion of food with, then at least you can take your time to be present with what you are surrounded by in that particular moment.
After lunch I walked home from Châtelet to République through Le Marais and I bought this; a cup of nutella, pistachio and amaretto gelato, becuase I wanted to walk slowly and eat slowly, all the way home.
Carpe Diem Cafe
21, rue des Halles,