Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Have you ever watched people eat? It’s really fascinating. Next time you’re in a restaurant, find someone at a nearby table you can observe without being too obvious. Count the number of times he or she chews a bite of food before swallowing it. You may be surprised.

You’ll find a few over-achievers like me who chew, try to talk a little without opening their mouths too far, chew some more, maybe take a sip of wine, chew yet again and then swallow. What, maybe 15 or 20 chews? But I think you’ll see many more who look for all the world like eating is absolutely the last thing they want to be doing.

I’ve observed many, many people—both men and women—who chew every mouthful only once or twice before swallowing it. And we’re not just talking soup here. Even inch-thick chunks of steak end up being swallowed nearly whole. One chew, swallow; say a few words; another forkful, chew, chew, swallow. Hell, why not just take your nourishment in a pill?

       Eating without chewing is like standing 
       on the rim of the Grand Canyon with your 
       eyes closed.

Eating without chewing is like standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon with your eyes closed. Enjoying an unhurried meal appeals to every one of our senses. I’m certainly no connoisseur, so it doesn’t take fancy cooking to please me. But I know good food when I taste it and appreciate the dining experience on many levels. Whether it’s a burger and shake or sake-poached prawns with rutabaga confit, I enjoy every nuance of presentation, taste and texture. Not to mention the good conversation a leisurely meal so often nourishes.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember ever being given the choice of whether or not to eat my vegetables. My brother and I ate what was served. Simple, balanced meals and a sense of food adventure were part of our family culture.

I have to marvel at the little co-dependencies I see played out in so many American families today. Parents start their enabling by asking their kids what they want to eat. Are you kidding me? The kids—having picked up the no-vegetables! mantra from friends and/or media—inevitably make poor choices. Worse yet, some parents don’t even ask; they just assume their kids won’t eat anything that’s good for them, and then fulfill their own prophecy. This little scam is further reinforced by the kids’ friends and their parents, and restaurants, which apparently figure the only thing a kid’s ever going to want is a grilled cheese sandwich or hot dog. And we wring our hands at the epidemic of childhood obesity!

So, next time a server brings your meal and says "Enjoy!" take him at his word!


Hubbs Center said...

One of the best things my mother did, at least as far as food is concerned, was to take a French cooking class at the YWCA. She rarely asked us what we wanted to eat . . . but we loved the results of her cooking class homework. Vegetables and all. I think we all learned to to try new things, some of which other kids our age wouldn't have touched.

Jeffrey Willius said...

You were lucky! I didn't even know French cooking existed. But that just meant I could make that discovery later. Thanks for your comment!

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting One Man's Wonder! I'd love to hear your comments on this post or my site in general.
And please stay in touch by clicking on "Subscribe" below.