Weekend Meditation: It Doesn't Always Have to be Fabulous

Weekend Meditation

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Blogging about food is a tricky thing. In order for something to be post-worthy, it usually needs to be a pretty wonderful and delicious thing to eat. If it's not, then there has to be some kind of story about that. Or it should be a new discovery. Or have some meaning in our lives and culture. But we seldom write about ordinary, everyday food or eating. We don't sit down at the table to an ordinary PB&J lunch, and then move over to the computer and blog about it

Everyday food isn't always fabulous, or revelatory, or new. It's often not worth writing home (or a blog) about. It's usually just lunch or breakfast or dinner, plain and simple. And that's just fine.

My mother eats the same lunch nearly every day and has been doing this for 20, maybe 25, years now: swiss cheese on good hearth bread, toasted, with lots of Hellman's mayo and lettuce, and served with a side of lemon yogurt and a banana. She loves this so much that if she goes out for lunch and misses it, she'll make it for dinner. A nice thing, this swiss cheese sandwich, but not necessarily something to write up a recipe for.

So it is with a lot of our everyday encounters with food.

The other evening my neighbor spontaneously knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner. "We haven't hung out in a while," she said, "and it's no big deal for me to throw some more pasta in the pot, so come on over." I happily accepted. Who could pass on such an easy commute?

Twenty minutes later, I knocked on her door and we sat down to a nice meal a la Trader Joe's: a simple romaine salad with store-bought dressing that was followed by artichoke pasta covered with some slightly doctored up jarred sauce. She apologized briefly: "If I would have planned this in advance, I would have had more than Trader Joe's food for us." But the Trader Joe's food was just fine, pretty tasty as a matter of fact. And I completely preferred the spontaneous act of neighborly hospitality to a more elaborate presentation at the table. I was very happy that her lack of fabulous food didn't keep my neighbor from knocking at my door.

So lately my mantra has been 'it doesn't always have to be fabulous' which helps me to relax, enjoy the moment and be spontaneous. It helps me appreciate those little stories to be found in the ordinary moments, like my mother's Swiss cheese sandwich lunch and my neighbor's all Trader Joe's meal.

Sometimes, fabulousness just isn't what I'm in the mood for.

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I hope you enjoyed this encore Weekend Meditation, originally posted in May 2010. I will be posting these vintage posts every Sunday (with the occasional new post, if I can manage!) for the next several months while I focus on writing my first book.

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.