Dreaming of a Mouth Full of Fresh Pesto
“You never grow old at the table,” the Tuscans say.
And the more I think about this, the more I think it’s true. As we get older, many of us lose our childlike sense of wonder. Everyday life becomes mundane. You find a routine that works and you stick to it. It offers comfort and security—to expect the expected.
But remember what it felt like when you took the training wheels off your bike for the first time? The thrill of the wind around you, tempting you to become one with it, to see how fast you could peddle to match it. What about the butterflies in your stomach of being near your crush? Sitting next to them during a movie, barely being able to pay attention to what’s on-screen because you’re wishing their hand would just graze yours.
All of those sensations are born of the unknown, from fear, yes, but hope, too. No one talks about the “Hope of the Unknown”. Fear takes center stage because it can be all-consuming, eating away at support structures we have to continually reinforce. But those who dwell in the hope of the unknown, those are the dreamers, the life-long students, the travelers, the ones that can always find something new.
The newness of these moments are the building blocks if our lives, our personalities. We’re shaped by feelings. All too often our journeys are tarnished by toxicity and the harshness of living, sometimes just existing is overwhelming on its own.
But there’s one place that offers consistent reward—our taste buds.
From thick hand-cut pasta made from scratch that swells into pillowly noodles in chicken soup, to delicate cookies rolled in powdered sugar that melt in your mouth, and salty chunky gravy that brings tears to your eyes just thinking about it. We all have a family recipe that brings us back to that moment when we first had it. And when we find new food that lights up our taste buds, letting us know that this can’t be the last time we enjoy this particular meal—that’s the missing joy—the childlike wonder of experiencing new things.
Good food is universal. It’s the quiet hum that descends at a loud family table once forks dig in and meet mouths. It’s being on a date and immediately cutting off a piece for your significant other to try because they have to share the experience you’ve just had. The idea that enjoying a meal suspends you in that moment, that food stops time.
I have so many memories that are encapsulated by conversations over shared plates. It’s the most pure fuel for a soul that I’m aware of—a true physical manifestation of love. And there’s so much food I haven’t eaten yet and lots that I need to have again . . . speaking of which, there’s some leftovers that are calling my name.
A few days ago, I read this really incredible article in AFAR called “The Joy and Genuis of Traditional Italian Home Cooking” by Frances Mayes, the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, hence the quote that starts the post from that article. It really stuck with me and you guys should check it out, if only to make yourself drool.