The Soulful Side of Eating

Sex and eating have a lot in common. They both involve pleasure through our senses and they can connect us more deeply with other people as a shared activity. That is if we slow down our super busy lives, become more mindful and make them a priority. 

  Photo by Paul Garrett

Photo by Paul Garrett

The idea for Total Soulful Journey began years ago while I was on a photo safari in Africa with a couple from Spain, a couple from Canada and a number of couples from the USA. After shooting the sunset each evening we would return to our safari camp or hotel for dinner. The Americans typically ate quickly and returned to their rooms. My Spanish and Canadian friends, however, dined slowly savoring the wonderful flavors of the food along with a yummy variety of South African wines while sharing personal stories, laughter and camaraderie. These dinners had a soulfulness to them that was sadly lacking from my rushed dining experiences back in the States. Upon returning home I was determined to bring mindfulness and the romance of fine food back into my life. 

REDEFINING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

In someways, we have lost our connection with food and eating has become something that we have to do just to get us through our busy days. Fast or frozen foods have taken over because we are short on time with our hectic lives and too tired at the end of the day to cook nutritious meals that not only feed our bellies, but also feed our souls. As a result family dinners are no longer a mandatory ritual at the end of the day and the convenience foods that we bring home tend to not be as nutritious as homemade dinners used to be decades before. This has lead to an obesity crisis in the USA and a general loss of eating satisfaction. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could bring the art of cooking back into our lives, slow down a little and take time to actually taste our food before running off to the next scheduled event? This is possible if we realign our priorities and make nutrition, home cooking and dinners together a priority. 

When we break bread with others, it seems like we connect at a deeper level. Socializing over a delicious meal is another way in which we can bring more soulfulness back into our lives. Cooking with your partner or roommates is also another way to bond and reconnect at the end of the day. In addition, it speeds up the process of preparing dinner by dividing up the responsibilities for the meal. It is also more fun to not have to do all of the work alone. If you have children, consider having them help you as well. Don't treat it as a chore. Instead, make them feel special for helping. It is good for kids to have responsibilities and for them to develop cooking skills at an early age. I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen and as a result I not only became a good cook, I also learned to enjoy the process of preparing a delicious dinner.

10 TIPS FOR SOULFUL EATING

Here are my top tips for making your next dinner a soulful event:

1. Set aside at least one evening a week to enjoy a slow meal without distractions. Set a fine table with candles, turn off your cell phone and dim the lights. This will help you to be both mindful and present.

2. Take time to plan a special menu. If you prefer to go out, research restaurants that are well known for having excellent food and an inviting atmosphere. Discover new places and create new experiences.

3. Learn about food and take interest in the flavors and characteristics that make it so enjoyable. A great book to get you started is, “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat.

4. Watch “Chef’s Table” on Netflix. This excellent documentary romances fine food as it profiles the top chefs from around the world. Not only is this series interesting, it will also make your mouth water for the delicious dishes that are created before your eyes.

6. Watch “Cooked” on Netflix. In this four part documentary series, food author Michael Pollan presents the intriguing history and science behind many of the foods that we love so much. This outstanding series will inspire you to bring more soul into your cooking.

7. It’s time to eat so close your eyes and chew your food slowly being mindful of the aromas, flavors, textures and the temperatures. Take notice that your tongue has different regions where flavors such as salty, sweet, sour and bitter are more pronounced. Smell also plays a roll with the flavors of your food so be mindful to breathe through your nose. Think about the flavors and enjoy them before you swallow.

8. Feel free to express the pleasure that your are experiencing from a totally delicious dish. If your are having a tastebud orgasm (aka TBO), then don’t hold back. A good series of UMMMS will not only enhance your enjoyment, they will also please the chef… lol

9. Resist the temptation to drink ice cold beverages while you are eating. The cold can dull your tastebuds and slow down your digestive track. Choose drinks that compliment the flavors of your food. Sip them slowly taking time to appreciate the layers of flavors within them. This is what connoisseurs of fine wine are famous for doing.

10. Talk about the food with your guests, and if you are on a date consider sharing a couple dishes for variety. This is a way to share the experience, plus you will both have the same breath afterwards. 

FOR THE LOVE OF BURSCHETTA - MY FAVORITE RECIPE

One of my favorite foods to make in the summer is bruschetta. Garden fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil taste so incredibly good this time of year. Here is the recipe that I love to use:

  Photo by Paul Garrett

Photo by Paul Garrett

Ingredients:

1 - baguette

6 - roma tomatoes

8 - thinly sliced basil leaves

2 - garlic cloves

1 - package of fresh mozzarella (aka buffalo mozzarella)

1 - pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup - extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp - balsamic vinegar (adjust to taste)

Directions:

Carve the baguette into thin slices and carefully toast them on a baking sheet under the broiler until they are lightly browned on both sides. Dice the tomatoes discarding the seeds and place them in a bowl. Finely chop or mince the garlic cloves and add them to the tomatoes. Thinly slice the basil leaves and add them to the mix. Sprinkle in the salt and stir. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and stir them in, as well. Thinly slice the fresh mozzarella cheese and add it to the bowl. Give the cheese and diced tomatoes a few minutes to absorb the goodness of the olive oil, garlic and the balsamic vinegar flavors.

Place the toasted baguette slices on a platter. Brush them with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar from your mix. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on each slice of bread and top them with at the diced tomatoes, basil and garlic.

Now it’s time for the taste… Close your eyes and take a bite. First you will enjoy the contrast of the warm crisp baguette with the cool smooth creaminess of the cheese. Next you notice the robust freshness of the garlic, tomato, basil and olive oil against the sweet and sour contrast of the balsamic vinegar. When done right, this combination of flavors will explode in your mouth. Yes, you just had a tastebud orgasm and there is no need to apologize. This dish is totally TBO!!  It should also be noted that a nice Cabernet Sauvignon will pair super well with this bruschetta.

  Photo by Paul Garrett

Photo by Paul Garrett

Food is not only a source of nutrition and energy, it can also be delicious and soulful. Practice mindfulness this summer as you enjoy the fresh flavors of the season, and dine outside whenever possible. Also remember to slow down and appreciate your food in the company of good friends and family. Let us know in the comments below what your favorite foods are in the summer. Also hit the "Likes" button if you enjoyed this article. Your feedback is immensely appreciated!

Bon appetite,

Paul


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