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Moments in Greece with Yogurt and Honey

Years after our visit to Greece, I still have glimpses, impressions, and tastes that travel to me over time and space.  I clearly remember the rich, heavy yogurt, strained on the island and the chamomile honey taken from her hives.  The silky smooth texture of the one and the thick and sticky texture of the other blended with the sweetness and the tartness to produce an "aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" pause as I ate.

That "interruption of taste" into our lives is so easily missed if we just buzz through our meals.  Failure to set up the proper environment to RECEIVE the food is often the cause.

I am no fool, we don't eat enough meals at our own home with the proper environment to RECEIVE the food.  Two nights a week there is "Scouts", and another two nights there is "Soccer".  They divert us from being able to sit down all together.   I work most weekends, so those meals are taken in the dining hall at the Camp + Retreat Center.  Then there are the days when the boys come home ravenous from their day at school and need to eat something balanced RIGHT NOW.  All of that to say that we are all pulled constantly away from the opportunity to sit down in a proper environment to RECEIVE food.  It is something that we all must work at to build into our lives.  We can only be enriched in the process.

Part of the nourishment that we gain from eating is the social nourishment of community.  Another part is the restorative nourishment of slowing down and relaxing.  So, we need to push ourselves to remember that we must make time in our lives to have meals that are social and restorative as well as filling.  As we do this, we will notice fuller flavor structures in the food, in our friendships, and in our lives.

I remember the full taste of the earth in the tomato sauce that the lamb was cooked in.  I could feel the subtle play of the garlic and basil in the olive oil as it swam through the sauce as well.  Each piece of bread had not only an earthy taste, but it was a living aroma that I traveled in all day long.  I walked the streets tasting the bread with my nose all day long.  When I finally sat down to a meal with the bread itself, my whole day came back to me in an air of completeness and contentment.

Islands have a way of doing that to you.  They are often small enough that you get to see the fish being brought in in the morning while you eat your breakfast.  It doesn't take long for you to realize that fish will be what is offered on the menu tonight.  If they didn't get "snappers" don't look for them tonight.

It is also very common to walk along a road and smell the heat baked aroma of chamomile in the sun.  Then, later in the day when you taste the honey, you'll notice that same smell because you taste the work of the bees in having carried chamomile pollen back into the hives.  A closed system like an island can help to make these things plain.

That predictability and comfort in food and nourishment can be built into our food experiences at home or abroad.  We can enhance its texture by crafting foods that take all day to cook.  The aroma builds up a tension and desire in our tastes that is sated when we finally get the to meal table.

Using things that we see all around us also connects us to our meal table.  If  we grow things ourselves or raise them at home we can play into this tension and desire around food and nourishment.  This is why it is critical to take some time to plan meal table experiences into our lives that are bigger and more entailed than the drive-thru allows.  Our interior health and culture actually thrive on it.

Just some thoughts on the meal table and the nourishment it provides.

On a less ethereal note, check out this video from a friend's site.  Chef Jacob Burton has posted a sensational clip on dicing onions.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6piiuxJx4o&feature=youtube_gdata 

He is so good at nailing down the essential skills of the craft.  If you love food, you really need to check out his podcasts.  The Free Culinary School (dot com) is a hotbed of culinary delight.  Make sure you stop by there often:  http://freeculinaryschool.com/

Ciao!

+Tom

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