Tag Archives: Art of Eating

Finding the Strength

Life has its hard knocks and when it knocks we feel the pain deeply, whether it be the death of a family member or friend, the loss of a job, the loss of self, it hurts.  

But life has a softer touch, a gentle rhythmic tapping sound on the shoulder, in the ear, the heart–a tap, tap, tapping reminder of time going by. 

As I approach 50, I feel the tick-tocking of time more acutely.  I watch my friends grow older, my favorite icons or mentors die, my parents ripen to a rich old age (for which I am grateful), and my own children move into adulthood!  This life, with its starts and finishes, hellos and goodbyes, joys and sorrows, ups and downs, the good and uglies all move to the dance of time.  And what a dance it is. 

I am thrilled to be alive, and soak in each day like a sponge–the sun as it rises, the grapes as they turn, my family as it grows and contributes to life itself.  Still, there are times, when bad news comes in for me or a loved one, when we need strength, courage, or a great sense of humor to make sense of it all. 

As an adult, I derive strength from my well of family, friends, country surroundings, pets, stories, poetry, exercise, past experiences and of course, from our Nicolas Alexander 2007 vintage. (One must have wine!)

Growing up, I found strength in my childhood home, where my parents provided security, and stability, a roof over my head, food on the table, land to run free and love to dive into each and every day. 

I grew strong in mind, body and spirit on my mother‘s muscle soup.  I don’t remember a pain, a trouble, a care in the world that wasn’t cured by my mother’s muscle soup.  It was the end all, be all, for life’s trials and tribulations. 

With my father, it was curiosity and lively debate at the dinner table that fed our souls. 

With my mother, what mattered most to her (besides her independence) was food, cooking and attending to our basic needs: food, security and love. 

Here in the wine country, M.F.K. Fisher, who lived her life in Glen Ellen, CA. wrote this in The Art of Eating.

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”

I know what my mother and Fisher meant when they talked and lived by these words.   It was just last week, the rain was coming down and all I wanted to do was make a pot of my mother’s muscle soup.  As I put the ingredients into the pot, stirred the olive oil, minced garlic, fresh basil leaves, soaked lentils, chopped green peppers, and a little tomato sauce, these delicious smells filled my kitchen.  I felt whole, happy, alive.

I was one with the world.