Sunday, October 23, 2011

Satisfaction

I do not want a big meal.  Almost never.  The feeling of being stuffed as become disgusting and even painful to me, taking away the true pleasure of what eating well ought to be.  The philosophy of satisfaction is something that's been developing in my mind and life for a while, and one I want to pass along to my children.

Some years ago, I was very overweight.  I loved food (still do!) and loved to fill myself up with it.  It was security and love and comfort.  Pretty typical of a lot of people, right? 

I still feel that way sometimes, and will not be phony and pretend I have it all figured out.

It's a constantly evolving philosophy, this concept of Satisfaction.

Rather than being full, I want to walk away from a meal being Satisfied; filled up with all the pleasant sensations of an excellent meal (or even a snack).  Taste, texture, aroma, temperature, and atmosphere are ALL so important.  The first two or three bites of any one dish tell most of the story. 

This is why I so appreciate how many restaurants offer "small plates."  You can call them appetizers, or half portions, or any number of other phrases, but at their finest they are a much smaller size of a typical starter, salad or entree.  I don't need a 16 ounce rib eye.  I might want one, but I don't need one!  This approach to eating, whether in a restaurant or at home, will serve the diner better than any pretentious ingredient or cooking method one can conjure up.

Smaller portions of a few, well-chosen dishes with the best ingredients I can muster are where it's at in my food-mind.  Lovely wine, if you choose, can complement and round out the lighter dining experience.

Eric and I often eat this way when we're out.  We choose an appetizer, salad and entree from a "small plates" menu and share everything.  That way, we might get to enjoy shrimp or scallops, mixed greens, and some sort of beef, pork or lamb, for a fraction of the cost for two full entrees with all the accompaniments.  We get to taste some of the best things a restaurant may have to offer without stuffing ourselves or breaking the bank.

How does this translate to home cooking?

A typical family meal in America might feature a huge plate of pasta, with bread and maybe some salad.  Or a large piece of meat, plus potatoes, vegetable and salad.  What about casserole (or as we say here, "hot dish")?  Lots of things mixed together, plopped on a plate and served with more bread.  All of those items have a place at the table, but it's the portion size and pleasure that gets out of whack.

Most of our children won't want to get near their vegetables and salad if they have a big pile of buttered noodles and two pieces of chicken to get through.  What about half of a chicken breast, a few bites of pasta, plus vegetables and salad.  Their hunger will guide them to finish their meal, not the other way around. 

Like I said, this hasn't been perfected in my home or my own life.  There are times when I stuff down something junky just to feel full and because it tastes good.  I usually don't feel great afterwards, but at the time it seems like a good idea.

Try eating less, and enjoying more.  Especially in the evening or when you eat out.  It has literally saved my life, and shown me what true Satisfaction is all about.

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