Monday, June 7, 2010

Bread......and friendship.

I nearly had a heart attack reading an ice-cream label had 27 ingredients. Twenty-seven.

I have few addictions. Good martinis, butter...lobster. (hmmm...some of those certainly go together) The smell of paint and sunshine...herbs. I subscribe to a single magazine--Saveur. Honestly, I can immerse myself for hours in pages of wild chanterelles, lemongrass, and olives; luscious ideas of tantalizing taste and scrumptious possibility. Last month they had 14 recipes for bloody marys...and chocolate gravy. Yet there seems to be a single remarkable theme...real food. Untainted.

We pay a dollar more for the mac and cheese that doesn't have "yellow #12" in it; even more for free range chickens fed on grains and worms and grass. We buy jars of peanut butter that only last a month and I am obsessed with my butcher who actually cuts my steaks in front of me--two inches thick and marbled enough to make me bite my lower lip and inhale softly in anticipation of the tender feast that awaits.

The age of MSG. It put american-chinese food on the map....and is now the number one anti-advertisement: "delicious with no msg!" Tv dinners, microwave magic, cereal that "has a full day's vitamins in one bowl." (shudder) As our technology surged, we reveled in our modern intelligence, our clever short-cuts to facilitate a new world with a new definition of family. No longer was it even feasible to awake with the dawn and mix and knead the yeast into loaves that needed 6 hours on the back of a warm oven to rise and then bake. Instant was good...filling was better. We applauded, we rationalized. And then....

There was this slow....missing.

Like a summer's night without fire flies. Autumn without leaves...Christmas without stockings. Blame it on doubts...on science, disease scares...on texture. We found ourselves with plastic trays and mushy pasta, mediocrity leaving us hungry ten minutes after the meal for lack of sustenance. The epic death of taste buds.


Why does it we now submerge ourselves in a sea of organic and natural and pure...that we have somehow escalated the fraudulent lives we lead? We rave over unpasteurized goat cheese and fire roasted lamb with figs while we permeate our relationships with additives, enhancements...garnishes. Our media, our politicians...our families. I have found myself smiling at a party even as I swallowed garish sallow compliments. I've entertained complete frauds. I've been guilty of accepting the synthetic. I've even dished it out...with cilantro.

It seems that the real...the pure relationships are...sparse. Is it just that I'm older? More discriminating? Less patient?

As I muddled garam masala and fresh garlic in a mortar and pestle this afternoon, preparing to sear and roast--I found myself contemplating my recent dissatisfaction in my personal relationships. I have rushed. I have microwaved entirely too often. I have settled for instant.

Friendship....real and true and honest friendship...needs yeast, not baking soda.


Laurnie said...

I can not tell you how much I have been thinking about the same thing - and wondering how I can write about it without offending the "friends" who read this. I can count my "good friends" on two hands. But really, I cant count on THEM. Something Ive been thinking about a lot lately.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, interesting and provocative thoughts, deliciously presented. I'll be thinking about this, as will others of your readers, because of how you've phrased it!

Susan Erickson said...

In our younger days our friends were more accessible...then we all got extremely busy and disconnected. I too, have only a few good friends...but I am guilty of loving my alone time so what do I expect....

Dina said...

I have had the same revelations of late. It is mind altering the difference in Whole foods vs. processed. Free range organic hormone free vs,,, not so much. I applaud you for pointing it out. I get lost in your descriptions. you have made me hungry! For both good food, and good friendship. :)

Mom et al said...

You continue to amaze me. I had to read this several times. How easily you have converged two issues into one. I can see how they are one, but the resolution to me is out of reach. We as an American society have created this problem for ourselves. Everything is fast paced (well, at least in North Eastern America), without careful planning and forethought. How often does a nuclear family sit down to enjoy a meal, and beyond that when is that meal created as a point of reflection and a nourishment of mind, body, and soul? I am afraid that time has passed, and honestly I cannot say that I was ever a part of it.

The second issue of friendship, I am reminded of a quote from Hamlet:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to they soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.

Do we choose our friendships as easily as a box of flavored instant oatmeal from a shelf? I often think of us as souls moving about each other searching for connections. We entertain each other throughout our lives, often moving on when we realize our threads will never properly weave. True connections of friendship are few, but I think we all sense when they are real. We know when we fit, when we are not just garnish in each other’s lives. I do not necessarily believe that it is bad thing to entertain the garnish, so long as we keep the bonds to our dear ones intact. Nurturing friendship over time for me is an easier feat than the meal we have to put on the table by 5:00 PM. Sorry this is so long. You have an old soul, my friend. Thank you keeping me thinking.

Chantel said...

Laurnie--sometimes it seems the definition of friendship has changed. Then again, perhaps how often we move, how transient our lives are...could this lack of permanence be at the center?

Bliss--life is so's best served warm, with cheese. :)

Susan--alone time is so precious--my life feels invaded so often leaving me thinking of one day heading to the hills and trying out hermit-hood. I think...sometimes, I just want less...yet have it be...deeper?

Dina--good food and good friendship are the staples of life, eh? Oh--and good music too!

Maria--I love both the quote and the idea of threads weaving! I think perhaps this year--moving into our new neighborhood less that 11 months ago--I have a slew of new "friends"...yet I know them not at all. They probably know more about my daily life, have overheard our conversations, come to our parties....yet sometimes I yearn for the intimacy of slumber parties and braiding each other's hair like we did in college--where you talked for hours about everything that mattered...and all that didn't. *sigh* I've recently begun writing "real" letters to some of my closest friends. (pretty stationary scented with perfume! lol) I think I'm feeling very...ungrounded lately. Like I need something more concrete. I love e-mail and phone calls....but I'm missing the "realness" of arms looped together and shared ice-cream. Do I sound as mad as I think I do? (chuckle) Oh, and never apologize for the length of your comments--I adore them, they add so much to the conversation!

Jessica said...

You are my sun baked mother earth bread of literary fulfillment.
I love reading your blog.
I appreciate where your mind goes.
Proof that organic doesn't just pertain to food.

Heather said...

What a wonderful post, I've just come over from Laugh Out Loud. It's true, I think, we don't put the time needed into relationships these days, much the same as we are looking for quick fixes to problems, be it weight loss or money worries, it seems that as a whole we aren't willing to put the time and effort into anything any more. Sadly even friendships.

Which is probably why the most enduring friendships are the ones from childhood, the ones that percolated over long summer days spent doing nothing together but lying in a field or poking at puddles with sticks.

Oh to have the time to nurture such a friendship these days and spend that 'doing nothing' time together that it needs.

Laffylady said...

Hi are on LOL funny..!! link up and enjoy..!

Eva Gallant said...

I read your work for the first time today on LOL. Which brought me here. I'm afraid you have a new follower.

Chantel said...

Jessica--simply adore you.

Heather--so lovely to meet you; I think you're right about those childhood we've spread across the world, I miss them so.

Laffy--HA! Love you!

Eva--I crave new followers! :) Welcome and do drop by often!

Therese said...

I love this post. I am so with you on both front and you have married them beautifully. I love Jessica's comment that "organic doesn't just pertain to food". How odd is it that we have to pay extra for our UNtampered with food? The food withOUT chemicals. How hard to find are the friendships that don't contain carcinogens? Because insincerity is surely bad for your health, right?