Weekend Meditation: Joie de Vivre

Weekend Meditation: Joie de Vivre

Dana Velden
Aug 16, 2009

Joie de vivre is a french term that literally translates as 'the joy of living.' Not the joy of life, but the joy of living: the active, energetic, enthusiastic engagement in the business of being alive. It's not surprising to me that people who love of food and cooking often have at least a touch of joie de vivre. Most that I know have buckets.

How about you? Do you count yourself among those who find a deep pleasure in the very act of being alive?

To clarify even further: joie de vivre is not just about optimism or even cheerfulness. It certainly isn't about acquiring the best of this or the latest of that. Nor is it a way to avoid life's tougher lessons by covering the nasty bits in a thick frosting of denial and false cheer.

Rather, joie de vivre is about finding the pleasure intrinsic with being alive no matter what the conditions. For many of us, it's found in the simple, everyday events of cooking a meal, bathing the baby or sweeping the front stoop. It's noticing that little spark of delight in what's right there in front of you, be it your favorite swiss cheese sandwich for lunch, or the most exquisite dessert of fresh ripe peaches soaked in Muscat.

A big part of this love of living is sharing it with others, which is why cooking and eating with friends is an important pleasure. Picture a long table, ringed with chairs, covered with platters of food and bottles of wine and you will find that at least one, if not several, devotees of joie de vivre are participating. And it's no coincidence either that I chose a still from the film Amélie for this post, as the titular character's joie de vivre and her attempts to share it with others plays a big role in her charm and appeal.

A life deeply felt and lived is not without great sorrow and disappointment and loss. A believer in joie de vivre is not afraid of joy, and the risks of joy. She realizes it's crucial to take it all in, to get it while she can. Life is fleeting, and the pleasures are many. Case in point: it's stone fruit season right now and the peaches are sweet, ripe and abundant. So pick up a peach and a knife and start living!

Peaches Simmered in Muscat

4 firm, ripe peaches (can be slightly under ripe)
1 bottle Muscat wine
optional: a sprig of rosemary or thyme

Wash the peaches but do not peel them. Slice them into thick wedges and gently place them in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Pour the wine over until they are just covered. It should take around 1 1/2 cups. Heat very gently over a low flame until the wine starts to simmer. This can take as long as 1/2 hour, which is good.

When the liquid comes to a simmer, remove from the heat. At this point you can toss in a sprig of rosemary or thyme if you want. Let cool. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of mascarpone or a store-bought amaretti cookie or just as they are in their splendid simplicity. If you want a more pronounced flavor from the herb, you can remove the sprig from the wine, finely chop the leaves and sprinkle over the top.

Faith also posted a nice peaches in wine recipe last month: Peaches with Dessert Wine

(Images: Amélie and Dana Velden)

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