Chew Wisely

Chew Wisely

The Joy of Playing With Your Food

By Fred Wistow

January/February 2011

Habit . . . . cuts off from things which we have witnessed a number of times the root of profound impression and of thought which gives them  their real meaning." —Marcel Proust


If every summer you go (as I do) to chill out for several weeks at a no-talking monastery in French-speaking Switzerland, but you don't (as I don't) speak French, and, therefore, during lunch each day, you can neither talk to your tablemates nor understand the meaning of the random excerpts from the local French-language newspaper one of the nuns is softly reading aloud to the room over the gentle tinkle of silverware—a ritual designed to keep the community glancingly abreast of some of the latest horrors sure to be unfolding in one place or another out there in the real world—you'll find yourself with basically two alternatives to occupy your time: either you drift into that familiar default state of barely-conscious daydreaming and worry that constitutes the lion's share of your mental activity or you actually pay attention to eating.

Ah, yes, eating.


That's that thing you do when you bite off a chunk of something, chew it a couple of times, and then promptly swallow so you can resume talking again as soon as possible.

So, as the incomprehensible news update drones on in the background, you decide—just for the hell of it, for a change of pace—to interrupt your anxious stream of "thoughts" and start to focus. Inevitably that means you begin…

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