Babette’s Feast

If you haven’t seen the movie Babette’s Feast I highly recommend it. It is at the top of the genre of films about food that speak of its power, least of all nutritionally, but mostly of its ability to lead people into a sort of religious experience, one that breaks down rigidities and borders as a sort of love and bliss take over. I am staying with a cousin tonight who might never describe his relationship to cooking and food in such a way, but my experience of it is as such. Whatever vegetables have been gathered from the local co-op, some of them you have never heard of, meats that were on sale at the market, rices or risottos available, he is a genius at creating a menu and preparing the food with broths and sauces and spices, like an alchemist in his laboratory. The wines he serves are carefully chosen and enhance the foods to melt your heart.

On my 50th birthday, sad over divorce and a life dissolving, this cousin cooked for me a 9-course meal, each plate a tasting size portion, and all of them chosen, lined up and prepared with extraordinary care, even though he makes it all look as natural as breathing. The wines through the courses were suited to the flavors and textures of the foods. Tonight, just a casual meal as I pass through town, was one of these meals – rare and thoughtfully combined foods and wine.

These pleasures are the essence of life, a universal language and religion. I want to learn more and more about how to create such experiences as I go forward in life. I feel inspired. The senses are portals. The gods address us through them.

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