As I write this, the second blog of my career by the way, I am headed off to Italy to work. Now that I am into this blogging thing, which I resisted for so long, I sort of like the idea of having a place to share my thoughts with you and to pass on any cool and snazzy information about food and health that comes across my desk. (And yes, you may even find a recipe or two that I might be experimenting with…but you have to promise to let me know how it turned out for you when I do.)
My husband and I spend a lot of time in Italy as a part of what our work…we host healthy vacations…you get to see all the sights but my staff and I do all the cooking so you go home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
I love walking the local markets for the freshest ingredients and planning the menus for the group as I go. I am as surprised as they are some evenings…in a good way!
One of the things that strikes me…every single time I am there…is that Italian people are so connected to their food. (I am sure other cultures are, too, but Italy is where my experience lies.) And I don’t mean obsessed in that neurotic way that we are. I mean, connected to it as their source of life, family, community and sharing.
Here in America, we race through the market getting shopping done as quickly as possible. I have been guilty of it myself. In Italy, shopping for food is part of the sensuous experience of dining, to be savored almost as much as the meal itself. Haggling over the freshness of the greens and fruit is common; warm bread just from the oven is the first to sell out; serious-looking women direct the butcher’s hand to the freshest-looking piece of meat, cheese or fish in his case. It’s all part of dinner, so to speak.
I feel so strongly that if America is to truly find its way back to robust health and quality of life, we need to find our way back to the kitchen and gather at the table for meals. Dinner has to stop being a burden; the interruption of tv viewing or video game playing and become the time of day when we gather together and share nourishment and love. It needs to become the time of day when we connect and find our hearts in each other.
It sounds sappy and anyone out there who knows me knows that I am not. But I find myself tearing up when I am sitting under the grape arbor of our dear friends, Alessandro and Maritalia, with friends and family around us, laughing and talking over each other as we enjoy a feast of fresh ingredients brought together by the loving hand of the cook, designed to feed our bodies and our souls.
I wish for each and every one of you the experience of this kind of dining. It may not be fancy, but the food you create in your own kitchen and serve at your own table is the most delicious.
I’ll try to write from Italy, but with cooking and travel, who knows? I promise a full re-cap of the trip…maybe even some photos if I can figure out how to post them when I get back. Til then…as we say in Italy…ci vidiamo…See ya.’