Eating is serious business, no? As we gear up for Valentine’s Day, who e’ll likely have visions of sumptuous meals to share with loved ones…or maybe visions of something tasty and a single fork or spoon if we are trying to treat ourselves independent of the holiday.
There’s clearly a sensual component to eating. All of our senses can be employed: the sound of a sizzling fajita plate; the scent of your favorite food instantaneously entering your nostrils and unlocking memories as soon as you enter your family home for a holiday meal; the tantalizing sight and taste of your favorite food; the feel of the tender morsel of crab that you gently pull from the shell, or the weight of a juice-laden orange in your hands. Good food grabs ahold of your brain and takes up residence there, in your short-term and long-term memory.
And yet we sometimes try our hardest to run on the opposite direction from the aspects of dining that are more art than science. In Michael Pollan’s noteworthy book In Defense of Food, he shares that President Martin Van Buren lost his re-election bid, in part, because he had hired a French chef for the White House, a move that was seen as being too highbrow, too focused on food as something other than fuel.
I have written about relegating food to fuel status, but I’m learning that making the experience enjoyable and treating the food lovingly, rather than giving it a cursory once-over with your utensils, goes a long way, even for healthy food. As does sharing a meal with someone you love. If you’re partnered up for Valentine’s Day, when it comes to your first date, the combination of the restaurant, the food, and the conversation–the experience in its entirety–all made the event memorable.
Tomorrow, many of us will smile a little brighter when we think of Valentine’s Day. If you don’t already have a love affair with food–eating the best ingredients, opting for flavorful accents whenever possible, or otherwise paying attention to the quality of the food you eat–why not start on one of the most love-focused days of the year?