Today was the first nice day in a while. Or, at least it seemed so, because the last time the sun was out, I had to be at work. But today was a Saturday, and it was that sunny, cool autumn weather, perfect for a drive out in the country, especially with the top down--one of the rare advantages of living out in the middle of nowhere. Our original destination was eastern CT, but we took a detour through Newtown, to visit the recently open branch of The Meat House. "Your Neighborhood Butcher," they call themselves. But they are that and so much more. Although their main focus is the butcher counter, they also carry a broad array of fresh local vegetables, artisanal cheeses, locally produced homemade soups, pasta sauces, dips, baked goods, dairy products, and much more. Their staff is knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and their prices are, surprisingly, not unreasonable considering the quality they offer.
Husband and I, foodies that we are, were thrilled to have discovered this gem in our backyard. We were tempted to buy pretty much one of everything. The tomatoes were so red and fragrant. The soups looked custom-made for a chilly fall evening. Spices, brownies, ice cream... and, of course, the meats.
It took all our self-restraint to walk away with only one pound of bacon, a bag of baby brussels sprouts, and one miniature apple pie. Oh, and they gifted us with a sample of their marinated steak tips.
After a lifetime of restricted eating, and the recent entry into a world of unlimited choices, it is easy to go a bit crazy buying all of those foods that you have been meaning to try for years. Husband and I went through a phase during which we were overwhelmed with a backlog of food ideas that we wanted to implement. You name it, we wanted (and still want) to make it. Our fridge was fast filling up with all sorts of foods, many of which shamefully ended up tossed because we didn't get around to them. Others are still cluttering the freezer.
Not to mention the myriad restaurants that are now open to me.
However, since I am endeavoring to eat only when hungry, the reality is that my opportunities to realize all of these culinary and gastronomic concepts is seriously curtailed. I experience hunger twice, or perhaps three times a day. And this hunger is usually satisfied with a small to moderate amount of food. The idea of a dinner consisting of an appetizer, main dish with sides, and dessert is, frankly, not very appealing most days.
The upshot of this is that I have to be very particular when choosing the foods I eat. I am a realist, and acknowledge that, if hunger is the primary criterion I consider when eating, there will be times when hunger and scheduling will trump preference, and I'll end up eating at McDonald's. And that's okay. The majority of the time, I make sure that every bite I eat is a worthwhile experience. I choose high-quality ingredients, prepare them with care and respect, and try to focus fully on what's on my plate when I do sit down to a meal.
It doesn't have to be complicated or hifalutin. It simply has to be fucking awesome. A plain ham and butter sandwich can be perfection itself when the elements are of the best quality, and when it is consumed with total attention. Just as the fanciest meal can be a waste of time and energy when it's prepared without attention to detail and eaten in a hurry, because we are focused on the next thing that's cluttering up our minds, or are multitasking and eating in front of the TV or computer.
Since the opportunities and capacity are limited, I might as well experience boundless enjoyment from the few things I can chose at one time.