The last installment for 'The Rome Series,' highlighting reflections from my recent trip to Rome, Italy.
For me, much of what made Italy such a beautiful experience stemmed from the food (big surprise!). When I reflect on it though, the meals shared were more than handmade pasta dishes or perfectly presented antipasti - it was much more - mealtime was a slow paced event, nothing was rushed, nothing was spared. We sipped wine, savored our bites, not thinking of what was pressing back at home. We just ate, and conversed, and enjoyed.
Some meals on the trip I can vividly remember everything that I ate (like the life-changing linguini al limone with house white wine and marinated olive antipasto), but others I cannot. What I can remember is how we treated mealtime. It was an event, a destination. It was not discussed that we would treat our meals this way; it just happened. That part of Italian culture cannot be sidelined, even for a tourist on her first visit to the country.
Food is a connector. God could have chosen anything to provide us nourishment and He chose food and the meal. He does not create anything by chance, or accident, so there must be a spiritual significance underlying it. The meal is meant to foreshadow the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the banquet prepared by Love itself. Each Sunday, we all gather to partake in the summit of our faith, the Eucharist. A meal which Jesus directly enters into our presence and our bodies. We partake in at least three meals a day, where we have a chance to slow down, intimately connect and bask in the joy of a shared meal. A chance to CELEBRATE the goodness of life.
Wine is like life to men, if you drink in moderation. What is life to a man who is without wine? It has been created to make men glad. Wine drunk in season and temperately is rejoicing of heart and gladness of soul. [Sirach 31:27-28]
How I wish I could go back to that late afternoon meal in Trastevere where we sat for close to three hours or that lunch of hand-tossed pizzas and prosecco with a view of the Amalfi coast... What I can return to is the leisurely pace, and the fun conversation, and the gratefulness of the moment. What I can return to is putting great care into how I prepare my food and savoring the taste. Salute! to eating like an Italian, allowing the great connector of food to create an appreciation for the beauty and art of cooking and a grateful, open heart for others.
What are some of your favorite ways to cherish and celebrate mealtime?