Posted by annmcolford


I eat, therefore I am. Or, I am, therefore I eat. But I also think. I cogitate, I ruminate, I obsess; I wrestle with ideas, and they often get the better of me. I stare out the window. When I can pull myself out of my head, I go out and have fun with friends. Or I go out solo, just to interact with other human beings.

I think about food a lot. I like the sensual delights of good food and good wine. (I like good beer, too, but it doesn’t like me so much, so we don’t interact as often.) I especially enjoy a good meal taken in good company.

What constitutes a good meal? Well, it could be an exquisite meal in a fine-dining restaurant or simple comfort food in a humble café; it could be a home-cooked meal, prepared by me or someone else; it could be a potluck with friends. What matters is a sense of mindfulness of the relationships involved and an awareness of where the food came from: who grew (or raised) it, how it got from farm to plate, who prepared it. Along the way, I hope, the food acquired a little bit of love — from the farmer, the harvester, the driver, the purveyor, the chef, the server, and the cleaner-upper. And when I take in that food, I hope I remember to feel gratitude toward everyone who has touched it on its journey.

What about good company? Many of my meals are taken alone — or in the company of Henry, my 10-year-old yellow tabby — and often that’s all the company I need. I can sit in a roomful of strangers and feel like I’m in good company, and I can sit at a table filled with people I know yet still feel an aching sense of isolation. I’m enough of an introvert (and enough of a snob) that no company beats tiresome company any day. But I love having meals with people who are fun, thoughtful, witty and insightful — especially those who like my company as much as I like theirs.

These descriptions are not hard and fast rules; they’re more like ideals to aim toward. If I’m invited to dinner at a friend’s home, and I know she buys most of her groceries at a big-box behemoth? No question, I’m there for the meal every time. I may not know the provenance of the food, but I know my friend, and I know she has prepared the food with love, and that relationship is enough.

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