The rules of engagement are simple:
- Eat clean, fresh, whole foods
- Chew slowly
- Do nothing else while eating
- Focus on and enjoy what's going into your body
There is NO doubt, growing up in a Greek household has contributed to my eating habits. My paternal Grandmother and namesake, Yiayia Kyrany, grew up and raised her six children in times of great hardship. Food was a luxury and therefore when available, it was to be enjoyed and appreciated regardless of what or how much was on offer. So, like sands through the hourglass, these childhood and early adult life experiences determined her mindset and beliefs which shaped her attitude and wisdom as she aged.
So, there she was. A woman with healthy appreciation of and positive relationship with food. A bona fide member of the slow food revolution. That's right punters, apparently this ain't some hot new trend...my Yiayia Kyrany had her finger firmly on the pulse back in the 20's!
It's true that my Grandmother would chew soup regardless of others having finished their meal and clearing plates around her. Regardless of being the subject of mocking. Yes, she remained true to her ways. Her philosophy and mantra was simply this, 'Eat slowly, live longer' and she made it to 96 so there must be some method to this so called madness.
You might then appreciate my absolute confusion with respect to her polar opposite way of thinking when it comes to food and how others engage with it. I suspect this too came about as a result of the aforementioned hardship, however the idea that food is not to be wasted IE. everything on your excessively over portioned plate was to be eaten...yes, ALL of it. The philosophy and mantra in this circumstance - 'Eat, Eat, EAT!'.
Being set in her ways coupled with strong support (similar to that of Kim Kardashian's brassiere) and encouragement from an entire race determined to prepare enough food to feed a small town and proceed to force feed it to you at each meal time has made it difficult. Oh, and let's not forget the double serve of guilt that's dished up when declining a third serve of something. 'You sick?' 'You no like it?' 'Eat, Eat, EAT!'
On the one hand, I wholeheartedly count the many and varied pleasures of the culinary world among the greatest on Planet Earth. The ability a shared meal has to bring people together, to open the lines of communication and the comfort it provides is to be (pardon the pun) relished. And if you're like me, the great satisfaction one feels in preparing something delicious for family and friends is truly wonderful.
Without doubt, some of my fondest stories and memories involve food.
All that said, you might appreciate that learning to balance the act of food for fuel vs. eating until you need to undo the top button of my pantaloons is a challenge and a skill that I'm hoping, no, intend to acquire. How's that for positive affirmation!
Here's my plan...I'm going to pay more attention, really take my sweet time and savour the flavour. You heard me, when I sit down for a meal, I aim to do it with 'joie de vivre!' enjoying every single bite whilst thinking of my Yiayia Kyrany.
Even all those years ago, she was definitely onto something...