A Brief Picnic
Usually, my lunch hour is spent in front of my laptop, browsing news and forums and anything else I can’t justify doing on a computer while I’m working. Since I spend many hours of free time each week melding with my MacBook anyway, this isn’t that surprising. But it’s an on the whole joyless way to eat; it’s about as food-centric an activity as hurriedly swallowing Pop-Tarts on your way out the door.
Today, I did things differently. There’s not much in the way of a park around here, but there is a stretch of grass and trees by the nearby deli, idyllic despite its setting in the middle of a parking lot. I took my sandwich and sat back against a tree to eat, enjoying the last bits of sunshine left before Chicago enters its Gloom Phase. What I expected to be a pleasant little change turned out to be absolutely blissful.
Maybe it was the grass tickling my wrist whenever I set my food down, or the roughness of the bark against my back, but suddenly eating that turkey on wheat felt more…meaningful. Something important, as opposed to something I just do every day. I ate slowly, which I don’t usually do, and even found myself licking my fingers, savoring every crumb.
There’s something about eating outside that makes you focus on the eating. Ideally, you do this in a peaceful setting. Park, backyard, graveyard, wherever–someplace that lets you focus on the taste, the smell, the feel of your food. Contrast the satisfying crunch of wheat crust to the gentle, yielding turkey; delight in bending a pickle against your teeth until it gives; wash it down with fresh, clean water and lie back to just savor feeling full.
While Fall pries the weather from Summer’s (not) cold, dead hands, everyone should take some time to eat outside. Get in touch with nature, get in touch with your food. I think I’ll do so on my birthday this weekend. Make some proscuitto paninis, bring a bottle of wine, pack some fresh grapes, and find a nice bench somewhere. I bet everything’ll taste a whole lot better.
I’m still gonna check the news on my iPhone while I’m there, though.
-Jim may start advocating Slow Food