Mindful Sampling


I am married to a wolf. Specifically, he is a wolfer of foodstuffs. He doesn’t so much take bites of dinner as chomps it whole. We all know someone with those scarfing, lupine ways, a thoughtfully prepared meal is set in front of them, then gone before you’ve donned your napkin to tuck in. Soon after, while others at table are still patiently masticating, Wolfman is howling and starts to slink off towards the den.

I pondered this after reading a recent NYT article on Mindful Eating. An inspired piece on contemplating and recognizing the flavors of food, the healthful benefits of chewing slowly, and how the proper atmosphere and mindset enhances every bite you eat.

Reading it informed my recent foray into mindful sampling. Feast is full of samples and as someone who refills them regularly, I admit I have “tasted” the Praline Mustard Glaze, dried fruit, nut, and cream cheese sample with perhaps more gusto than Slow Food Charlottesville would endorse. So I challenge myself to slow down. Take a zen moment and slowly taste the offering before grazing more, err, getting back to work. Resist your inner canine, I say. Be the contemplative squirrel. For me, I tried the guided meditation approach, dwelling on: the texture of the sample on the tongue; Read the sign in front of me. What am I tasting at this moment? Did one of the cheesemongers create this pairing? Where did the individual elements come from? Which of the salty, sweet, sour, bitter or savory umami notions in the taste buds is this satisfying? Look around, are others experiencing the samples the same way? mmmmmm…. This is fantastic. How can I get more of this? Where’s a basket so I can take every bit of this home with me? Have they called my name for lunch yet? Where’s my ticket…

Ok. I digress. We all do when circling the center table. But the good intentions and advice are intact. We’ve all heard comments on how “dangerous” it can be to come in when you’re ravenous. I don’t think of the danger, just the delicious pleasure of intensely experiencing the sample, the lunch, and all things feast. That and bringing it all home in a cute, brown handled bag.

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