Guiltless Pleasure

Normally, I’m not a groupie or a fan boy, but after reading an interview with her in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, I consider myself a fan of Nigella Lawson. She has been a culinary sensation for some time in the UK. Shocking, because I don’t normally think of the British when I think good food.

I enjoyed the entire article, but what endeared me to her was how she replied when asked a question about what food trend she was totally over. Her reply echoed my own feelings, but she said it more eloquently.

“A food trend I am totally over is: this tendency to venerate or demonize foods. I have nothing against people wanting to eat in a way that makes them feel healthy and well; that seems eminently wise. But I feel that any form of eating that involves self-persecution can only do long-term damage, however essentially healthy a certain food trend might be. When there are so many land mines and rules, you kill the sense of kinship with the body. It makes eating something fear-filled rather than joyful.”

I must admit, I have felt for years that the kill joys in the media, government, and pop culture and been waging a food fight. Eat this, not that. You’re not healthy unless you run 5 miles per day and limit your saturated fat. On and on. The constant scolding took its toll on me.

It took my mother death to provide me some badly needed perspective. It was a stark reminder that life is short. A cliché, I know, but it helped me to prioritize my own life. I reflected on what I enjoyed and what brought meaning to my life. I realized how good food and the simple pleasure of cooking and eating with family and friends adds so much joy to my life.

Cooking has always been how I expressed my creative side. I love the traditional southern cooking of my youth, but I also love exploring different cultures through their food. Good food satisfies both my physical and intellectual hungers to explore the world and to learn. The guiltless pleasure of good food enriches my life every day.

I’m old and cynical enough to think the article was probable about getting me to buy her latest cookbook, “At My Table.” Well if that’s true, then it worked. After reviewing the table of contents, I placed my order. I look forward to sharing many wonderful meals with family and friends. Buon Appetito!

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