Tag Archives: foodie

Is Happiness a Place?

photo 1I’ve watched three episodes of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown since last night and now my thoughts are consumed by food and culture.

It surprises me how much I’ve been thinking about food, culture, and the next phase of my life — in which I sell most everything I own and take up the wanderer’s lifestyle for hopefully the next five years.

I had to write a foreword for my cookbook last week and it made me more contemplative than I expected. What did I value in life? Why? What did I want more of? And I found myself echoing in the words I was writing. I too was lost “in the whizz-whizz/whoosh-whoosh pace of city life” I’d been writing about. I work too much, live too little. But I have a goal in mind: Five years abroad, and a year to go before I want it underway. The clock is ticking. The end is in sight. The race is on. Yada, yada.

Watching Bourdain wax poetic about the timeless lifestyles of Granada, Spain, or Ecuador, or Peru, or Croatia, or… It all makes me realize how far off the mark life is here in North America, or where I’ve been living. Or how I’ve been living. Life here, though, is all about the Benjamins. Or would be, if we had American currency.

With one of the most costly lifestyles in the English-speaking world, Vancouver (and therefore Victoria, where it’s only marginally cheaper) has suddenly become a struggle to live on a budget. A lot of people I know, if they can work from home and aren’t tied down, are taking the risk of living abroad. Some have made permanent ventures of it. And why not? If one can tap into a different lifestyle in a place that, after so long hamstrung in Vancouver, where life feels like a vacation because everything feels new and shiny for a year or more — well, why not? And if it’s 30-60% cheaper? Fuck, yeah.

I understand that we have it pretty good in Canada, and that’s where our money goes, but I also think it’s pretty ethnocentric to make bold claims like “best place on Earth.” After all, there’s a lifestyle in places like Spain and Ecuador and other fantastic places where they do have long vacations every year, and they focus on life first/work last, and they celebrate real food and wine and nature, and they do it all for cheaper than we do here, while still having a nice social safety net for the citizens.

We don’t have a monopoly on lifestyles. In many places, living really is pretty good, and they’re honestly too busy living life to bother trying to sell an image of it. Here, it feels like it’s so fast-paced and distracted that we’re constantly being reminded of just how GREAT everything is and how WOW SPIFFY our world is so we don’t start questioning how ridiculous it is that we have among the least amount of vacation time in the world, with the longest hours.

It’s like that time a friend read The Secret and told me what a powerful thing it was, and I should read it, blah blah blah. And I said, “Dude. You’re not happy with your job, where you live, and your relationship is in tatters. Prove to me that The Secret works by fixing your fucked-up life and oozing happy-happy/joy-joy, and then maybe I’ll buy the book.”

If life here was so sensational and happiness was the natural byproduct of it, do you think we’d be selling Xanax and Prozac like it was going out of style? Do you think self-help books would be so endemic? If life’s so amazing here, why do we need to keep being reminded about it?

When I was living in Vancouver, I kept telling people I wasn’t happy there anymore. Everyone said I was nuts, it’s the best place on the planet. Well, I can tell you wholeheartedly that selling the dream ain’t the same as delivering the dream, and for me, Lotusland just wasn’t delivering.

photo 2But maybe I’ve just got a restless heart. This time and place, it’s not right for me. I don’t know where is, but it ain’t here, not now. Not today. I think, for me, the joy will come from looking. From going to one place and being blown away and thinking “Nothing can ever top this,” and then, boom, next town, next country — “Nothing can ever top this.”

What if there is no place better than where I am today? What if, for the rest of my life I remember about the magical two years I lived in a magical neighbourhood?

Well, that could happen. Sure. But it’s a pretty big planet packed with a lot of wow, and I’m pretty sure things get amazing anywhere there’s mountains, trees, ocean, good wine, beautiful food, and kind people.

Happiness, for me, is a state of being. Having the time to be in the moment, not distracted, not paying a ton of money for an experience. A quiet place, a few kind people, the ability to speak my mind (or stay silent), a great glass of wine or a tall lemonade or strong coffee, some nature near me or surrounding me. Usually many of these criteria get met when I get to feel “happy”. It’s the recipe for happiness we hear so much about. Or my recipe, anyhow.

But to get there, to have that, I need to spend another year working like a dog to set my plan in play. Taking moments like this to think about the what-ifs of living abroad, the potential that life might hold, it makes knowing I’m working through another Saturday and Sunday all worthwhile.

That balance will come. For a little while, it means I have to prove how much I want it. And so I shall. With that, it’s time to do some work.

Sex & Food: Together Again?

I’m a foodie. Yes, I am.

And I got to tell ya, he prospect of regular sex has begun to loom, and this excites me considerably. Sets me all a-flutter, truth be told. But, you know, for all those strenuous hours of fun that potentially loom, one requires fuel. Enter food.

So I’m not sure what excites me more at this point — the prospect of regular sex, or the possibility of having someone to cook for again.

I’m a sensualist in every way. For example, my apartment is great and comfortable and is geared to stimulate every sense and look good whilst doing it. Loves me some music and candles. My food tastes run from down-home to exotic. I have a sophisticated palate, technical skill, and can invent food on a whim that’d blow your mind. I came damn close to going to culinary school back in the day but realized I didn’t want to work THAT hard for a living.

I’m also a Slow Food fan. I believe life moves quickly, and that food is important to us. I think we lose soul when we stop valuing food. I think we lose passion when we stop eating things that excite us.

I love the notion of Slow in all aspects of life — from sex to food to living. I’m present here and now in all areas of my life. I want my food to be of my time, I want to eat fresher, eat more clean food that I know I’ve prepared from scratch. I want local produce, quality meats and fish. I want artisan treats. That’s Slow.

But… when I’m single for too long, then a nice meal becomes the exception. I take shortcuts. I embrace things like Hamburger Helper and Sidekicks or sandwiches/panini or soups I eat for six days. I mean, it’s flavourful-functional, at best.

When I’m involved, however, I’m both a sensualist and a show-off. Perhaps a Moroccan chicken pie with organic greens? Maybe risotto and lamb? And while the lover of mine gets to enjoy the dividends… my life is richer for it, too.

Even better yet is when said lover is similarly a skilled foodie, because then we can tool around in the kitchen and spend the night nibbling fantastic things along with each other, and savouring good drinks. My god, does that titillate me.

There is absolutely nothing in the world I enjoy better than staying home with a lover and locking the door for a weekend, cooking fantastic food at lazy intervals between real-frequent and varied sex, napping when necessary, and catching up on movies during meals and lulls. The original rinse-and-repeat experience. And repeat, and repeat.

With the right company? Fuck, there’s no better time to be had. At home, anyhow. It’s the poor person’s vacation.

People who don’t think sex and food are intricately linked… y’all are doin’ it wrong.

It’s not a matter of taste. You’re just wrong. Flat-out. Inarguable.

(Sex + food) is like (peanut butter + chocolate). It seems like it’s always been a winning combination, and always will be.

Whether it’s Cleopatra feeding Anthony grapes from a silver platter in ancient Egypt, Adam enticing Eve with an apple, or you slipping your lover chocolate-dipped strawberries in the here and now with a champagne kicker, food hits a different kind of erogenous zone, but it hits, baby.

Besides, it’s fuel. Fill me up and watch me go-go. Sigh. Oh, the possibilities.

__________

*PS: Yes, I’ve lost about 50 pounds. I don’t feel like I’ve been dieting. I work out a lot. I could lose more weight faster by eating less and pretending cheese and alcohol don’t exist. But why would I do that? Fucking hell. Diets are for people who like to take pain. Just silly. Instead, make healthier choices and be aware of calories burned v taken in. Simple. I’m better at math than I thought. :)

If it takes me another year to lose the other 50 pounds (this 50 took 8 months) but I’m eating cheese, pizza, sausages, and drinking booze regularly, then fucking A. All the power to me. I’d much rather health-fully indulge (my choices are better and when I do go off the hook, it’s in moderation) and feel like I’m alive than feel like I’m cutting myself off from life with deprivation. I don’t do deprivation well. So, eat? I will. Might even have seconds. But I’ll deal with it the next day. See? Work ethic! :)