Fruitful Eating

27 Dec

It’s so easy, especially during the Christmas and new year holiday period, to eat without putting much attention on the experience. I have often finished eating something and wondered why I ate so much or why I chose to eat something I didn’t really feel like in the first place. But when I make a conscious decision to slow down and engage my senses, the entire experience changes from a basic instinct to fuel and nourish my body, to an intriguing and sensual journey.

For example, I had some beautiful, ripe cherries yesterday and after eating a few, I stopped and put all my attention on the next cherry. I held the plump cherry by it’s stem and dangled it in front of my lips. I felt it’s cool, moist, smooth skin as it passed my teeth and landed on my tongue. I felt it’s weight as it rolled around in my mouth warming up to body temperature and as my teeth slowly pressed down, the crimson coloured skin burst open releasing a stream of sweet juice and flesh. Finally, I was left with the seed coated in a fine layer of fruit. It was the best cherry I’ve ever eaten!

I had a mango this morning and one of my favourite ways to savour this exotic fruit is to simply eat it out of the skin leaning over the sink as the juices run down my hands. It doesn’t taste the same cut into little cubes and served in a bowl with a fork. I bite into the juicy flesh and scrape every last bit of the cheeks off with my teeth and then make my way to the seed which always leaves fibres behind for flossing!

After watching Eat Pray Love (for the sixth time) a few days ago, the scene where Liz is indulging in a plate of spaghetti, stirred memories. I remember eating a plate of spaghetti in Rome a few years ago with my mum and it was one of the best meals of our lives. It was a simple dish and if I ate it now there would probably be many meals I could recall as being far more attractive and flavourful. The reason it was so amazing was because we were in Italy after dreaming about it for years and we were sharing the moment together.

Have you ever taken time out to slow down and really experience the smell, taste, textures, sounds, colours, temperatures and shapes of your food? Do you know what a blueberry looks like inside? Try peeling off the skin or delicately biting it in half to see what it looks like up close. Does it taste different after spending time up close and personal? Have you noticed how a cashew nut turns from hard and crunchy to creamy with eat bite? How about the difference between a tomato that has been in cold storage at a supermarket to one that was grown without pesticides and picked straight from the plant?

(These tomatoes and chillies have been freshly picked from mum’s garden)

Now try a tomato with a sprinkle of sea salt or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Do you have a new appreciation for these simple seasonings that are often taken for granted? 

If you’re a chilli lover like me, have you noticed the sensations in your mouth as the burning spreads across your tongue from mild to intense depending on how hot the seeds are? Is your face heating up as well. Is it painful or pleasurable or a combination of both? Does it make you feel excited and alive? Do you have an urge to push yourself further and try something even more intense with your next meal? Can you detect any flavour from the chillies you’re eating or are they so hot that your senses are overwhelmed?

(I drew a few sketches of chillies, mango and cherries for this post)

I invite you to take just a few minutes to really be with your food and notice if your relationship with it changes. The aim is not to label anything as positive or negative, simply open up to being curious and see where it takes you.

Buon appetito, bon appétit, buen provecho!

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