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It wasn’t easy to slow my jaw’s movement. Taste buds were heightened by the sweet and soft concoction melting inside my mouth. Why hadn’t I ever enjoyed this dessert before?  Tiramisu entered my culinary stage!

After noticing this delicious dessert (how it looked on the plate, the shapes, design, aroma, the tastes and texture) and eating more slowly, I knew, considering the ingredients, it would be easy to stay up late. Why not! No one wanted to leave the charming Amalfi coast agri-turismo, Sant Alfonso in Furore, Italy.  

Each evening the owners cooked delicious home-made Italian meals. The last night’s dessert, Tiramisu, was the infamous “cavallo di battaglia”, aka, the pièce de résistance”. In the 1800’s Tiramisu was a dish served at brothels: “It … was invented by a clever “maitresse” of a house of pleasure in the centre of Treviso.” The ingredients are rich and energy-packed with sugar, caffeine (espresso and chocolate)) and dairy (mascarpone, heavy cream, eggs). The eating experience is transcendent, stunningly delicious.

Yet there’s so much more about this dish in addition to the ingredients.  Home entertainers and restauranteurs take note:

More than a Menu

Every evening the owners cooked with sincerity and passion. Their  authenticity was palpable. The food tasted yummy because somewhere in our consciousness we knew that they cared for us.  

Preparations were honed over years, generations, with grandmother-recipes and inherent, natural “How To’s” shared with family, friends and guests. The food represented history, careful sourcing, and community. No wonder we felt satiated!

Stateside Translation:

*Create a menu that resonates. Consider what would feel inspiring and good for your soul and hearts of friends…what would bring joy. 

*Enjoy the time cooking whether it’s before or with your guests. Our preference is to cook much of the meal ahead and infuse the ingredients with love. 

*The cooking process is nurturing and allows for quiet, anticipatory reflection. 

*Or it’s fun to involve your guests in making the meal. Just be organized and know your menu so it can be easily, happily shared. Prep many of the ingredients and if possible set-up stations.  

*Keep timing in mind. Guests usually arrive hungry and you don’t want to delay too much the time for sitting down.  

The Table is About Celebrating Abundance

There might have been flowers or any adornments on the table- it’s not what I remember. Rather abundant plates of food brought to the long table appeared simultaneously.  Groups of three or four people shared a plate and whole-heartedly “dug-in”. 

Boisterous conversation celebrated the day. It felt like everyone was talking at one time and most likely we were quite loud. It didn’t matter. We shared an intimate space. The local food and wine experience bolstered our interactions and happiness. There was so much to enjoy.  We reflected on the day. We learned more about one another as travelers.

Stateside Translation:

*When entertaining take on a “traveler” demeanor.  Stay curious, interested, present with your guests.  

*Listen. Laugh. Relax.

*You don’t have to cross an ocean. You can fully enjoy your visitors and meal at home (and in a restaurant if that’s easier). Oooh and ahhhh. Pause and look around.  Relish what you’ve created (or what’s been created for you). 

Travel and the Gift of Mindful Eating

(this is actually a practice)

You don’t need to be on vacation to experience joy around the table, over a meal, with friends, acquaintances and family. One dish or many can inspire. It’s all about mindfulness, creating an intention and noticing. 

Consider the apt definition of mindfulness by teacher, writer and founder of MBSR, Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

When traveling we pay attention more.  We notice our surroundings.  We pay attention to the food on our plate.  We linger at the table, relishing the people were with and around us. 

We can live as travelers at home.  

Stateside Translation:

  • Block out more time for a meal even if it’s five extra minutes;
  • Pause before eating. Seriously “study” what you’ve prepared and or are about to ingest into your body (and hopefully the food is supportive of your health and enjoyment);
  • Utilize all of your senses with each bite (and or as many bites as you can muster). Chew, chew, chew and imagine the food becoming part of your body. It’s ok to laugh at this suggestion but I still want you to try it!

We imagine that mindful eating and rich culinary experiences around the table require that you move slowly. This isn’t necessarily true- you can move at your “regular” pace and still be mindful.  

It’s not that Spirit Road Travel creates “slower” itineraries.  Rather we encourage observation and a desire to experience joy in the moments, with others and ourselves. Living as a traveler begins with mindfulness. Food and meals inspire us to notice so much more.

Join us On The Spirit Road at home and away: Spiritual Direction, Divine Listening and “Slow” small-group Travel.  

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