As I mentioned earlier, I'm currently only using chopsticks to eat. So far it has made eating way more fun and has, along with a few other recent things, made me think a lot about eating and what exactly it means to me.
Eating is weird. Not the fact that we eat, but the ways in which and the reasons for which we do so.
We eat alone, with friends and family, with lovers, while reading, while being entertained, while talking, while focusing, while thinking, while having sex. OK, maybe that's only George Costanza.
And we eat because we are sad, are lonely, are happy, feel hungry (or at least we think we are), are starving, are full, are mad, need comfort, are bored (+ many more).
To me, this is starting to seem like way too many reasons to eat! I, for one, feel a strong desire to break all this down and find the one true reason for my rumination.
I recently read (about) a book called "French Women Don't Get Fat." The author, French, but now living in America, talks (albeit pretentiously) about American gastronomy compared to that of her country. Her main point is to answer the question "why don't French women get fat?"
It's a good question since French food is rich, fatty and indulgent. Her answer hinges on the fact that eating in France is the joy d'vivre.
French people are always looking forward to their next meal, there's no snacking, and when they do eat, they are "eating with all five senses." In a sense, they are more aware and present when they eat. Additionally, they are eating for the simple reason that they are alive.
I observed this first hand when I worked at the not-so-pleasant, but authentically French, Bistro d'OC.
The owner family--Chef Bernard Grenier, Manager Benoit Grenier and their respective wives--would sit down to this huge lunch after every shift. Lots of baguettes, creamy meat dishes and lavish desserts supplemented by wine and espresso was their daily fare; yet they were lean and healthy looking. Of course, I really was starving and what they made me was some crappy butter-sausage-egg-poop casserole which I ate in the back of the restaurant in the dark by myself.
But still, I witnessed how at least they appreciated food and how their personalities changed when they were eating. (Most of the day was spent referring to customers as "fucking assholes" until it was time for their family lunch.)
Yeah, it was like that meal was all that mattered in the entire world. I can't believe I have to eat this crap.
So why weren't the Greniers severely obese? The author of the book talks about the logistics of this lifestyle. For starters, completely immersing yourself in a rich and tasteful meal will mean you will eat less than you would if you ate an oversized, bland meal while watching TV. Also the appreciation of every taste, smell and texture heightens your awareness so you will be both sentient and satiated: no more eating beyond the full point.
My new misguided Lent-challenge is also helping me be more aware of what's on my plate: rather than stabbing at my food like it's some wild beast, I must precisely tweeze it from its source, plucking it gently from where it lay and placing it directly in my mouth.
Mmmm. That bite was good. Can't wait for the next one!
And so, kind bloggers, the point of this palatial post is this:
Experiencing (from a peasant's point of view) the Greniers' meals, reading about that book and now simply using these chopsticks is starting to change my outlook on eating.
I think it will be easy, now that I've digested (I know) all this information, to figure out why it is that I eat.
One thing will never go, though. Chipotle burritos. But at least I'll use chopsticks.