Sunday, October 26, 2008

Food For Thought: The Simple Pleasure of Food

After a long day of running errands and shopping, the last thing I really felt like doing was cooking dinner. A few nights ago, I planned to make a pizza and picked up the dough from Trader Joe’s on my way home from work. Their dough, by the way, is awesome!

I decided to make a meatball pizza and garnish it with a little mushroom and basil. First step: take out the pizza dough from the refrigerator and let it rise. Second step: make the meatballs. Yeah, I had a few meatballs frozen, but my “perfect meal” called for all fresh ingredients. I’m a stickler that way. With the meatballs in the oven, I sautéed the mushrooms and got the rolling pin and dough ready to roll. The first time I made pizza a few years ago, I did not have a rolling pin and trying to spread the dough on the pan was comical and took fifteen minutes. Last night, rolling the garlic and herb dough was simple. I took the meatballs out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes and began slicing. Then I built the pizza: sauce, meatballs, mushrooms, basil and cheese.

The thing that was most enjoyable was the process of making the pizza. As someone who spends considerable time in front of a computer or in meetings during a typical work week, there was something therapeutic about using my hands to prepare my meal. A few years ago, when I was laid off from work and I had time to cook every day, making dinner was practically a religious event. Though my life had moments of frustration during the job search, the daily ritual of cooking a good dinner was something that centered me and allowed me to feel a sense of extreme gratitude. It also allowed me to use my creativity as I found different ingredients to make an ordinary meal taste not-so-ordinary.

Today, as our economy is faltering and our anxiety is high, I realize that the opportunity is there for all of us to feel this sense of gratitude every time we cook and eat a meal. I realize that we shouldn’t think about what we don’t have or what we might not have in the future, but what we do have right now.