Sunday, March 31, 2019

the pleasure of a rerun

I have wondered in recent years why Ed and I so rarely go out to dinner. (He'll ask, I'll say - no thanks...) And why, while in Warsaw or Paris I always repeat the restaurants. Same ones, again and again! Twenty years ago, I would have unabashedly called myself a foodie. Discovering new and exciting eating establishments was at the top of my list of indulgent pleasures. I moonlighted in a restaurant for several years so that I could be around food and ultimately, earn some extra money to spend on tasting new styles of cooking here or abroad. I looked forward with a passions to dinners eaten at carefully researched restaurants.

It's not that I do not like good food. And when I travel, I still look forward to dinners or even lunches, but something has definitely changed in my attitude toward eating. No, I'm not less adventurous in my tastes -- I still eat most anything that is fresh and honest. But what I really love is not the adventure, but the repetition of the known and loved.

And so it was with lots of smiles that I read this piece about eating by the former food critic of the New York Times today. It seems my habits aren't that different from those of the famous food writer Ina Garten, who is cited as saying that, at 71, she and her husband "go to the same restaurant over and over again until we just can’t do it anymore, then we go to another restaurant over and over again until we just can’t do it anymore. And that can last two years."

It turns out that at a certain point in life, new becomes less exciting than familiar and beloved. And I suppose that extends beyond food. Always Paris, always the same hotel in Paris, and even (when I can afford it) the same preferred room in the same preferred hotel in the same old Paris. With the same restaurant for lunch and a same one for dinner -- as if there weren't a million choices in this city of great eating.

To pull out another quote from the article, one wise old (or at least old-ish) person says this about eating out -- "I used to care about being entertained, and now being soothed feels more important. Life, it turns out, is hard." Indeed! Food and eating out serve a different function now. They are the balm rather than a new and exciting discovery. And if by some stroke of genius you find something that pleases all the senses -- you hang on to it. For a long long time.

I think the realization that we do a lot of repetition bothers Ed just a little. He'll mess with his salad a bit so that there's something new about it. And today, as I set out to do grocery shopping, he asked if I could look around for some nuts that are not the same old almonds peanuts and cashews. The guy's a real innovator! Perhaps if you stay home as much as he does, you dare yourself to at least occasionally step outside of comfy foods. Although when we do go to a restaurant, he'll look at the menu and if he finds mussels and fries, he'll order them. Always.

All this dinner talk comes on a day when I am not cooking Sunday dinner for the young family! It's a slow paced catch up Sunday for me. Plenty of sunshine, though still with that March nip in the air. A visit with the animals...

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... breakfast, of course (same old!)...

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And a lineup of farmhouse tasks.  Tomorrow, life returns to normal patterns. That is, until it surprises us. It's a given that there will always be surprises. Except (if I can help it) at meal time.