“The French have no such expression as ‘killing time.’ In their more philosophical vocabulary the term is ‘passing time,’ which means savoring all moments of it each to his individual enjoyment. While we battle with time, they relax with tempo.”—Cornelia Otis Skinner
To taste and savor. To enjoy what has been offered without racing through and wanting more.
Over this past weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the soon-to-be-released French film (in France, November 8th; in the states on Valentine’s Day 2024) The Taste of Things at Bend’s Film Festival, titled in France La Passion de Dodin Bouffant, after it was originally titled Pot-au-Feu, a film loosely based on the novel written by Marcel Rouff in 1924, The Passionate Epicure: La Vie et la Passion de Dodin-Bouffant, Gourmet, a character, Dodin Bouffant, inspired by real life French chef Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Starring once coupled in real life Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel, the two characters, Dodin (Magimel) a famed restaurateur and Eugenie (Binoche) a talented chef who works for Dodin in his chateau bring the seasonal ingredients to taste-bud dazzling final form as you see each dish being made beginning in the garden or farm and arriving at the table being served to guests or each other.
However, paralleling the intimate love scenes of Dodin and Eugenie, upon each dish being presented, only a taste is shown to the audience. The dance of appreciation, or thoughtful care and consideration reveal themselves in great detail and length. The opening scene alone is 25 minutes in length beginning with the harvest of the celeriac, the lettuce and other vegetables from the potager, followed by the complete preparation and cooking of each of the four courses. But contrarily, the conclusion, the presentation and serving of each dish to the guests in the dining room, shares only a taste when each plating is given leaving the audience’s palate salivating and no doubt writing a grocery list in their heads which is where I headed immediately after the film ended.
There are many other parallels in the plot that convey how excess and the glut prompted by want – wanting more, and thinking more is better, thereby not appreciating what is and what is being offered, does a disservice to the gift that is being given.
And therein lies the life truth of living well, knowing how to savor rather than want.
I found myself understanding more fully why a taste, if thoughtfully savored, gives us more than a glut of something we think will only increase our delight when more is gained. Having the opportunity to rent a holiday getaway at a dreamed about farm owned and decorated by British interior designer Rita Konig (explore the details and photos of my visit in this Travel Diary post, you will need to become a TOP Tier Member to view), staying for a full week, when it came the final morning before my departure, I found myself deeply moved by the awesome experience I had the good fortune to experience. However, the moment I arrived seven days prior, I knew I was crossing the threshold into a very special place, both to me due to my preferred decorating aesthetics, but also more generally due to the talent that Rita Konig is in the interior design industry. So holding this awareness at the forefront of my mind, I diligently savored each day, morning and evening I temporarily resided in the home, drinking up the inspiration, the creativity, the warmth and welcome, and the cozyness. In so doing, I held myself in the present moment more fully and more entirely throughout my visit and deepen my experience and enjoyment. And that is the gift we give ourselves when we shift from wanting, and wanting more to savoring and savoring what is.
When we savor, something we have talked about often here on TSLL, we are present, and when we are present, we are able to see all that is around us and discover more to appreciate even in the moments when at first glance there may seem to be very little to be grateful for. Savoring is a skill, a muscle we must hone, but so too is catching ourselves when we are wanting. Because when we want, we are saying we don’t know what we already have before us that is a gift.
Let’s step back in the kitchen.
Part of the inspiration for including and sharing a cooking show as part of TSLL is to demonstrate how being in our kitchens, the actually cooking aspect, can be a wonderful experience to savor. I liken it to a dance. A dance of moving from stovetop to the épicerie to grab the ingredients, to the countertop to chop the vegetables that will begin to create the base of the meal, and all the while the aromas in the kitchen begin to waft through the air and entice both the cook and any other inhabitants, pets too, to become ever more curious about what is begin created and will soon be shared for the meal.
Cooking a meal we wish to enjoy is similar to what the journey is in life as we venture toward a particular and desired destination. We can certainly enjoy the meal, and in fact, savor deeply and with great pleasure what is offered, but we can, and must, savor the journey, paying attention to how we engage with life, what we take notice of and thus appreciate all that unfolds and is witnessed along the way. Do you bemoan the loss of the summer’s long days or do you revel in the changing of the colors outside your window and on your winding walks? The latter is to savor, the former is to want. It is all too clear what will bring us deeper into contentment as a way of living.
So let’s savor, shall we? Let’s savor and delight, dance and celebrate, and in so doing, there is no need for want, only opportunity to create beautiful memories that when we recall how we felt, how the food tasted, we will only be smiling and savoring yet again.
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