Updated: Sep 1, 2019
My cousin is extremely talented at preserving fresh, organic foods. When I had my shop, Come Into My Garden, Patricia brought a load of her beautiful jars filled with jams and pickled everything in the most intriguing combinations, all of the ingredients grown in her own organic garden. I stood back watching as the crowds grew, listening as she described the creative pairings in each jar and sharing with everyone a little taste. That's when something registered in me for the very first time ... ummmm, as in that's so good, is the same in every language world wide.
From the moment we are born, we, meaning all living beings on earth, are looking for food. It is a need that is innate, or comes with the baby, for without it we would all perish. I grew up with a grandmother, mother and three aunts who were always cooking, so I guess for me, food had always been there. Then why did it hit me so hard when I saw a group of diverse human beings from all over the south and indeed many international countries, standing mesmerized in front of cousin, Patricia?
A fan of the TV show House Hunters International, I am always intrigued by the number of apartments and homes in Europe that have only small refrigerators. It does seems we are spoiled in America with our enormous refrigerators, but are we really? Our refrigerators and pantries are stocked with mostly processed, canned or frozen foods. Fresh foods have got to be better to nourish our bodies. In America fresh foods are more sought after today than ever, even though you almost always have to drive some distance to buy fresh. The availability of beautiful European outdoor markets providing fresh food, easily obtainable on a daily basis, may be a reason why they don't require our huge refrigerators.
Another thing I love about Europe is the fresh markets in the rural settings. Surrounding small towns host a market so you are always able to buy the freshest foods available just by venturing to the neighboring town each week.
In the large cities in Europe, the little shops are almost as appetizing as the delicious fare they offer. Imagine being able to pick up fresh dinner ingredients as you walk home from work. (Click the arrow below to start the slide show).
Growers would come through my grandmother's neighborhood when I was a small child with their trucks loaded with produce. The pressure cooker was always rocking in her home with many hand fulls of just stringed beans, cooked with potatoes and onions. She told tales of one vendor who always called out as he drove slowly by "Strawberry, Strawberry, Strawberry Man..." selling, what else, but fresh strawberries. If the photo below doesn't make you hungry for strawberry shortcake, nothing will. Imagine today just being able to walk out your front door and buy fresh produce for dinner off a truck.
Food means something very different to me today than before my awakening watching Patricia. It's glorious proof of the beautiful bounty our Earth provides for us, each tiny vegetable nothing short of a miracle. It is a special way to communicate with those who speak a different language than we do, or see things differently than we do. Just cook for them. Food is a language all its own.
Since food is an absolute necessity in life, it should never be taken for granite. Dining should always be a beautiful celebration, whether you are dining alone, with your family or with a group of friends. No matter if you are in a restaurant, outside in the garden, in your own home, or in front of the TV, the tiniest little effort ... just adding a lighted candle or a flower in a vase, can take a meal from just eating to a delicious pleasure. Why not take time to appreciate and celebrate the little miracles we share everyday? How do you make meals special?