What is it about a new year that prompts so many people to make a commitment to better themselves, usually by changing their diet, exercising, or reducing alcohol consumption? While these resolutions are made with enthusiasm and the best of intentions, they usually do not succeed. According to academic research on the topic, fewer than half of these changes continue, at best, through June. Many surveys find even lower success rates – as little as 6 percent – with most commitments being abandoned by mid-February. I suspect why so many of these efforts fail is because they too often require some measure of sacrifice. Sacrifice is difficult. Celebration is not. Let us upend the abstemious nature of most new year resolutions by focusing instead on the celebration of our most quotidian moments. By doing so, we may truly succeed in this annual commitment once and for all.
Many a new year resolution involves the desire to eat more healthfully; the best way to begin is to change our approach to food. M.F.K. Fisher, the greatest food writer of all, said “Since we must eat to live, we might as well do it with both grace and gusto”. Eating this way is more easily achieved if the food we are eating is good. Of course, it is easier for food to be tasty if the ingredients used to make it are excellent.
In this spirit I invite you, dear reader, to make 2021 the year of eating well. What are the tastes and ingredients that inspire you? What dishes are deeply personal and evoke longing? What food creates vignettes in your mind of comfort and satiety, much like that of Proust’s madeleine, the taste of which flooded the French novelist with memories of his childhood?
For me, the highlight of the morning is a strong cup of milky tea accompanied by delicious butter on fine, toasted bread. Not any butter will do; nor will any bread. And nor any tea, for that matter. The butter (lavishly spread, of course!) must fill my mouth with sweet intensity and extraordinary flavor (is that a whiff of grass, perhaps? Or maybe a whisper of clover?). The bread must be sourdough and cut by hand. The tea must be PG Tips, an ordinary British brand whose first sip “puts life into my life”, as my grandmother would say. I am not going to waste my breakfast on anything less. I will savour it and eat slowly, relishing every bite. This focus on fine food and ingredients keeps flavour at its maximum and reminds us that there is joy in simple things.
So instead of going on that juice fast, or forgoing a glorious, green-hued olive oil in that salad, plan on introducing yourself to a tsunami of sensational flavours this year. It will bring you comfort and pleasure. Be warned, however, that you will likely find yourself eating more healthfully and have more energy. You may even be consuming less. Fine-quality food, after all, is more nutritious and satisfying. Do not forget that eating well is the best revenge. And we all deserve to do that, especially after surviving the kind of year in which disaster had its own long season.
Article written by Aparna Dubey, Food lover
Flower and Herb Butter
(recipe adapted from Josh McFadden)
1/2 cup room-temperature, Le Beurre Bordier unsalted butter
Small or torn fresh herb leaves, including milder-flavored ones (thyme, dill, and flat-leaf parsley) and stronger ones (tarragon, sage, and/or oregano)
1 green onion, sliced
Petals from edible flowers such as anise hyssop, marigolds, pansies, calendulas, nasturtiums, Johnny-jump-ups, and borage
Flake sea salt
Cracked coriander seeds, red chili flakes, and poppy seeds (optional)
Baguettes or crackers
On a platter or board, smear 1 butter 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, using an offset spatula. Scatter generously with herb leaves. Scatter with sliced green onion, flower petals, salt, and pepper. If you like, add cracked coriander seeds, chile flakes, and poppy seeds. Serve with baguettes.