I’ll fell into the habit when I was in my 20s of eating very small portions. I’d done it a few times almost by accident, and discovered I liked chewing slowly and savoring the taste of thick, grainy breads, ripe peaches, almonds and Brazil nuts, steamed vegetables sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. It didn’t work with processed foods, though (white flour turns to school glue in the mouth), so at the same time I got into the habit of eating whole foods. Hurriedly consuming large amounts of predigested pseudo-foods was far less satisfying than slowly savoring small amounts of natural substances. Without even trying, over the next six months I lost nearly fifty pounds of spare tire.
Sadly, a few years later, while touring with a comedy act, I began falling into the old pattern of consuming large amounts of processed foods–no savoring required (or desirable). I also relocated that spare tire I’d misplaced; one friend called me “Michelin.”
Now, some decades on, I’m renouncing the rubber and learning once again to savor the flavor. Less is more: Small amounts of real foods fully savored are far more satisfying than over-sweetened, over-salted, over-priced styrofoods so quickly consumed one never truly experiences them.
Uh-oh, I feel a metaphor coming on. Anything in life that is natural and healthy—friendships, family, serving others, worship—will stand up to being savored. It’s the over-processed, repackaged pseudo-experiences that demand quick, thoughtless consumption. Savoring the flavor of life conditions us to seek more of the same, and before we know it we begin to shed the layers of fat that have insulated us from what is good and real and, yes, God-given.
We plough the fields, and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine,
And soft refreshing rain.
We thank thee, then, O Father,
For all things bright and good,
The seed time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food:
No gifts have we to offer
For all thy love imparts,
But that which thou desirest,
Our humble, thankful hearts.
~Matthias Claudius (English adaptation by Jane Montgomery Campbell)