As Ebola takes its final bow and admits defeat in the United States, the focus can now return to where an outbreak truly exists, namely Western Africa. Do not be alarmed dear readers, for I have no intention of discussing this matter any further. Instead, we focus on meals.
Some eat only to sustain the body—to replenish energy and depleted nutrients, a purely pragmatic pursuit. Some eat to satiate their own lust for food—to have their brains bathe in the neurotransmitters of ecstasy and stupefaction that only consumption can provide.
But who takes the time to actually enjoy a meal anymore?
Unfortunately, the average person is often besieged with innumerable responsibilities such that it becomes a near impossibility to sit and enjoy a good meal, let alone with other humans. Between having multiple jobs, attending university, and maintaining something resembling a social life, one often must hastily (and forcibly) introduce food into the gullet.
Could one not aspire to elevate a crate of burgers or a box of tacos into a nourishing meal for the mind and body? Although much pleasure can be derived from gobbling down square-shaped burgers, one is seldom prepared for the disturbance of the bowels that inevitably follows. Further still, insalubrious meals greedily consumed are often accompanied by guilt and shame—I know from experience.
The dining experiencing should be exciting. It should be joyous. It should be guttural sounds shared between mammals. It should be the exchange of ideas and laughter. It should be human bonding. All the woes and vicissitudes of life should give way to a calmly-lit room, strong beverages, tasty morsels, and boisterous merrymaking. It should feel warm and inviting, soothing and enriching.
As an aside, please, my dear readers, refrain from cell phone use once the festivities are underway (unless absolutely necessary, of course). For all the good technology has provided us, it has also gifted us the individual for whom one must repeat each sentence twice.
Let there be no mistake. The dining experience doesn’t require one to splurge carelessly in a restaurant, limited in food selection and by hours of operation. As was done among friends dear to me, a friend offered to host a gathering wherein each individual prepared one or more dishes to be shared by all. A little bit of food, a little bit of booze, and a healthy portion of friends yields a hearty meal that redefines what it means to be satisfied.
As I see it, food is not something that should be hoarded and frantically jammed into our mouths—although I find myself doing it more frequently than I would wish to admit—it should be consumed more slowly and shared with others. (Remember: first, offer to share and then, one can stuff one’s pie hole). Food and the company with which one enjoys it should nourish the body and the mind—from the rich conversations to the bellowing laughter that follows. However quaint it may seem, such should be the dining experience that more of us should have.
Do we allow ourselves to leisurely enjoy more wholesome meals or will humans forever scramble between tasks savagely devouring swill? Do we crave the food or the company? What if one were deprived of the social dining experience; what would become of our minds? Perhaps they would rot within malnourished bodies, trapped within tortured husks.