[This post is a hedonist flight of fancy and a bit of escapism. I know that there are plenty of people who don't have enough food and are worried about where their next meal is coming from. It isn’t my desire to sound like Marie Antoinette, but just to run away for a few moments and pretend that all's right and wonderful with the world.]
In the last few months, what was the best news that you received? For me, it had nothing to do with the pandemic or politics. Nor did it have to do with my family, my work or anything else that you might expect. It was the news that In-N-Out Burger was open for take-out orders.
What can compare to a fresh, juicy and messy Double-Double, animal fries and a vanilla shake? What is better than standing in line staring at the menu, considering what is on the not so secret menu; all with you mouth watering with expectation? Politics and the news? Not even close. My kids? They always want something, but a Double-Double just gives while asking for nothing in return. My job? Are you kidding? The closest is my dog, Lucy. But a No. 1 Combo doesn't have to be scratched, fed or walked. Nope, when all is said and done, it's the burger that wins with no close second.
Just look at that burger. Close your eyes and imagine your teeth biting into the bun and drawing the rest of the Double-Double deep into your mouth; imagine the creamy special sauce floating on your tongue and the taste and feel of the pickles mixed with the sauce. You bite into a fresh tomato slice and the juices stream to the back of your mouth. Then your mouth contacts the cold crisp lettuce and you finally get to the two patties separated by melted cheese and a slice of crisp raw onion. The flavors dance in your mouth rivaling any number done by Rodgers and Astaire.
Finally you swallow and the drippings from the burger run deliciously down your cheek and chin. You pick up one of the many napkins you have at the ready, wipe your face, and wonder if it would be alright to lick the napkin.
You have discovered heaven on earth that unfortunately only lasts the too few minutes it takes to finish your Double-Double. If you did not know before, you have rediscovered food, glorious food, and the fact that regardless what is wrong with your life the right food can make everything be beautiful for at least a little while.
Now, I know what you are saying. Eating does not solve your problems and can actually make them worse. You are right, and I would not recommend eating at In-N-Out be an everyday occurrence. But, to quote the intrepid Oscar Wilde,
Everything in moderation, including moderation.
The problem with the idea that we should eat to live and not live to eat is that food can taste so damn good. If all food tasted like cardboard or Silly Putty I would not be writing this Post. But it does not. So there! Think about how much work went into developing taste buds that can recognize the difference between the sweet smooth taste of french vanilla ice cream and the salty crunch of a cashew. We dishonor the heavenly creator if we waste the jewels that he has bestowed on us.
Any what about ice cream? How many problem can be at least temporarily solved with a scoop or two of your favorite. How many times have I stopped in the ice cream isle at the store and just couldn't decide between the oh so many delicious flavors available. For me, its coffee with almonds.
And then there are pies, donuts, pastry, cake or just chocolate? Certainly the existence of chocolate goes a long way to proving that God exists. If there is a universal language, it is chocolate. Everywhere chocolate speaks to us. It is the evidence of a sweet world and the prerequisite to the existence of heaven. The illustrator, Jane Seabrook, put it best.
If there's no chocolate in Heaven, I'm not going.
If there is anything the genders, races, religions and nationalities can come together around is the blessed nature of chocolate. Every session of Congress should start with the sharing of the chocolate bar. God could not have been so cruel as to allowed the invention of the chocolate covered strawberry and then deny us the pleasure of its company? No! To accuse
God of such barbarity is blasphemy. Even in God challenging Job, he took away much. But not chocolate. (And, yes, I know that chocolate is a New World food and that no one in the Middle East at the time of Job had any idea it existed, but allow me my flight of chocolate-covered fancy for the moment.)
In the end, I guess what I’m getting at is that eating is not optional. We do it or we die. As one screenwriter said, since "[w]e all eat, it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly." Regardless of what is available, food is something that should not be shoveled into your mouth. It is more then mere subsistence. It should be cherished as any valuable commodity. Take your time. Taste each bite, let the tastes swirl in your mouth, and swallow deliberately. Make each bit a feast.
And don't forget dessert, even if it is a slice of fruit. Reward yourself for whatever you did right. Even if it was to survive the day. There must be something you did right. Remember that '[l]ife is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” Dessert requires you to "[s]eize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart."
As I write this I am getting hungry. It all sounds so delicious. In-N-Out is open and I'm on my way.