for the enjoyment of food

by Andrea Elizabeth

I skipped to the third book in Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet’s Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses for the chapter on curing gluttony, which is temperance. I keep thinking of the movie, Babette’s Feast where Babette prepares a sumptuous gourmet feast for the pious, austere Danish pastor’s daughters who have taken her in, and some villagers and friends. As a result, the guests break out of their shells and learn to enjoy themselves, and become more pleasant and merry. I know that America in particular swings way too far the other way so that obesity has become a very expensive and life-threatening epidemic, where austerity is the remedy. But not austerity to the point of becoming dower and fearful, imo. The chapter on temperance talks about measuring your intake enough to weaken the passions, but not enough to become too sluggish and depressed. While amounts should be closely monitored when you have the weakness of gluttony, which not everyone has as interest in food varies dramatically between fat and skinny people, I believe flavor enjoyment also has its place. The book talks about the proper attitude of thankfulness to God for nourishing food, but I believe we can also consume with thankfulness for the taste as we eat in obedience for our necessary daily bread.

Additionally, Americans become easily bored, so that Snickers bars are no longer good enough. Now we have to fry them. Hamburgers aren’t good enough; now we have to put hot dogs, chili, and onion rings on them, and serve them with tacos. The cure for this isn’t adding more and more spices and ingredients, but in abstaining for a time, so that one can appreciate simpler food. A piece of bread can taste like the most decadent cake if one is hungry enough, provided they have a functioning pleasure sensor in their brain. Pleasure is supposed to be a motivator to engage in healthy activities, not something to be completely ignored, imnsho.