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Foodie Tuesday: Food Appreciation Day
Jul 26th, 2011 by Nancy

This came across my screen from EcoSalon, and it compelled me to echo Anna Brones’ sentiments about the the simple pleasures in simple fare.  I realized, however, that I could never write as well as she does, or travel to Sweden for inspiration, so it seems best to just pass along her words.  Here you go:

FOODIE UNDERGROUND: APPRECIATING SIMPLE FOOD stockholm-salad

by Anna Brones, July 20, 2011

I’ve been traveling for a few weeks, and in doing so have failed to keep up with the latest and greatest in food news that seems to inundate the blogosphere on a daily basis. But a girl needs a break every now and then, and so the computer has been off, and the brain partially so as well. Fortunately, we all need sustenance, and although I haven’t been keeping up to date on what’s new in food, I have been eating a lot of it.

This is relaxing eating. Summer enjoyment. Sitting down with friends and family and enjoying everything from basic open faced sandwiches to fancier fried chantrelles. Not fretting over what to throw in the stir fry for dinner because I’m exhausted after work. No, this is food for the sake of food.

Sometimes I will ask for a recipe and jot it down in my red Moleskine, sometimes I just sit and enjoy, not thinking about what went into making what I am eating, and sometimes I get riled up and launch into a diatribe on the failings of the American and global food system – trust me, it’s part of the dinner table charm.

I’ve also been scouring every daily newspaper that sits next to my cup of tea and skim through the food section where there’s always a new recipe. Really they just make me want to throw dinner parties. And then in the evening I feel a pang of jealousy as I watch trailers for the new television series by one of my favorite Swedish food personalities, Tina, thinking to myself, “I want a cooking show too.”

What I’ve come to realize is that even taking a break, I still can’t get away from food. None of us can. No matter where we are or who we’re with, we have to eat. You may be a freak about it as I am – every meal I eat I make a mental list of how easy it would be to make at home and how I could even tweak it – but when it comes down to it, food culture permeates all of our everyday lives.

Unfortunately, we often don’t take the time to enjoy it.

I read an article during one of my famed tea and morning newspaper sessions about the author of the new cookbook Mat Under Bar Himel (Food Under an Open Sky). Beyond the poetic name that seems to sing summer and vacation ( it’s on the shopping list for before I head home), the author Michael Krantz points out that eating outside is a way to better appreciate our food and our friends. “When you eat outside you’re forced to talk to each other in a different way. When you’re inside, there are a lot of other distractions,” he said to Dagens Nyheter.

Combine that idea with the fact that we know that eating is better for us when we’re in positive social settings, and it’s no wonder that summer fare tastes and feels so wonderful.

I won’t even attempt to make any arguments about how Swedes are more conscious about what they eat than Americans – they are also facing a staggering obesity epidemic, fast food burger chains are on the rise, and a trip to the grocery store tells you there are plenty of refrigerators stocked with prepared foods ready to be thrown into the microwave.

And yet, there’s a consciousness about food that hangs in the air, not what it is or where it comes from, but that it’s important to eat, three times a day, every day, and that sometimes, it’s worth investing a little time in making something good. Even those who don’t like to cook peruse cookbooks to put together respectable dinner parties. Food has a certain level of importance and deserves our attention. Which is why the Swedish refrigerator and pantry tends to be stocked with the essentials: hardtack, dense bread, yogurt, meat, cheese, butter, vegetables and most likely a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or table. Basic but essential.

And when it comes to eating that essential food, time is valued. Breakfast, even as small as coffee and a macka (open faced sandwich), is a must, lunch breaks are lunch breaks, to be had in the break room instead of in front of the computer, and on weekends, dinners often get a little glorified, if nothing else, to celebrate the days off.

There is nothing extraordinary or trendy about this approach to food, on the contrary, it’s very simple. This is what makes it so that food and the enjoyment of food plays an integral role in everyday life, instead of being a mere after thought. Which means there’s thought put into which sandwiches you make to take on your afternoon outing, and an insistence on finding a good spot to sit down with your coffee thermos and enjoy the sun. The time to eat, even when you’re not eating anything fancy, is not to be taken lightly.

So forget complex recipes, forget the latest gluten-free baked goods, just take some time to eat good, simple food with friends, maybe even throw in a bottle of wine for good measure, and give honor to the sustenance that your body needs.

Because if we all have to eat, every single day, why not make it an enjoyable routine?

Images: Anna Brones

Nancy here again…

EcoSalon points out that this is the latest installment of a weekly column, Foodie Underground, that I highly recommend.

Here’s hoping that this summer we all have the opportunity to share, with friends and family, food under an open sky.

Lunch is the "Friendliest" Meal
Mar 2nd, 2011 by Chris
Photo taken by TheRehn, stock.xchng.

Photo taken by TheRehn, stock.xchng.

As the unofficial custodian of the Lunchsense Facebook page, I’ve decided we should make a push this month to reach 250 (FB) “likes.”

“Why?” you might ask.  Why should I bravely endeavor to persuade complete strangers to become new friends?

The answer is simple—“It’s what we’re all about.”

Certainly, new “customers” are nice, but consider the Lunchsense mission:

to change the way people THINK about (and pack and carry) LUNCH.

Sure, we want you to contemplate the benefits of our box, but first, we’d just like to get you to consider what’s inside.  We want to invite you to re-evaluate the possibilities of this under-appreciated, “brown-bag” meal.  In the interest of your health and well-being, it strives to be a much larger part of your life.  And, it’s eager to be shared.

We rarely get a chance to have lunch with family members during a busy work-week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate “family” wherever we are.  Relationships develop over shared bites in lunchrooms, cafés or at picnic tables every day.  A noontime respite is the perfect opportunity to share rants & raves and to formulate like-mindedness.  It’s a communal exercise—when we collectively stop grinding for a moment, and grab some grub with our mates.

It connects us with our community.

Do you eat at the same place every day?  With the same people?  Alone?  Indoors, or out?

This simple practice, nourishing ourselves, improves the quality of our lives if we let it.

We want to spread the word—“lunch!”  Hopefully, becoming more well-liked on Facebook will enable us to enrich a larger community.  AND, if we reach our goal—250 “likes” by March 31, 2011—Nancy will offer $5 shipping to everyone for the month of April (2011)!

Please visit our page this month, and invite your Facebook friends to do the same, as we attempt to build our group of enlightened grubbers one lunchbox, and one lunch-break at a time.

Instant Karma
Feb 9th, 2010 by Chris

nirvana1With the New Year well underway, it seems like a good time to do a little accounting. No, I don’t mean finally opening the credit card bills you’ve been hiding for the last several weeks (though you should at least take a peek before attempting your next purchase). I’m talking about considering your Karma account. “Karma account?” you might ask. Yes, that’s right, and we all have one. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, in my world I have my own version: “It takes a bunch of friendly neighbors to get me through my to-do list.” Sure, some of you (those without children, of course) might be more independent than that, but honestly, don’t we all get by “With a Little Help from Our Friends?” Where would any of us be without an occasional favor? The luckiest among us live in vibrant communities full of helpful neighbors, and the best way to keep ourselves on the right side of this vital group is to pay attention to our Karma accounts. If yours is anything like mine, it looks a lot like the check-book after Christmas . . . “I owe, I owe, I owe.”

Okay, so we’ve all been getting, and it is our turn to do a little giving. What do we do? Obviously, there is the ever popular returned favor, like for like: you picked-up my boys from school last week when my washer exploded and flooded our house, so I’ll get your daughter this week while you are waiting for your son’s broken arm to be set. It’s all nice and tidy, Karma in/Karma out. But, perhaps you are few favors down. Or, you really want to gift a close friend. Maybe you want to get the attention of a new friend or co-worker who (if you are single) also happens to be very cute. I’d like to suggest that timeless Karma classic: treating someone to lunch. This might seem like an obvious choice to some, but before you make those reservations at the swankest hip spot in town (remember those credit card bills), or (Heaven forbid) start jotting down orders for the nearest drive-through, consider the word: “treat.” Yes, it implies you’re paying, but what else?

To treat also means things like to care for, to entertain, or more suggestively, to heal (as in, what ails you). Synonyms for a treat include delicacy, ambrosia, or the simple, charming goody. Any sandwich that starts with the word “Big” and ends with a trademark symbol hardly fits this description. Even that $12 Club with the awesome cup of French Onion that’s available at Swanky Swanks falls short of truly caring for someone.

Consider this alternative: taking a few moments to thoughtfully prepare a healthy, lunchtime snack that you can serve to your friend and enjoy on the fly. Treat inherently implies something special, so be creative and add a personal touch. Cut your carrot chips into stars, whisk up your famous vinaigrette, or maybe a little spinach dip. Include that awesome ginseng tea, or a fresh berry smoothie, and don’t forget the homemade oatmeal-raisin cookie because for many (all the kids in my house) treat means something yummy and sweet. Stack them all neatly into your Lunchsense lunchbox and find a special spot, preferably outdoors, but anywhere quietly adjacent to the beaten path should do. Invite a friend and celebrate your greenness (more Karma points) with a trash-free treat while sharing an appreciative smile. If you use your Lunchsense wisely, your Karma account could overflow.

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