There is an intriguing interplay between the setting of the meal and our willingness to enjoy it. One dish, when served in an upscale restaurant, will command far more attention than it will when you have it as a leftover for lunch the following day. A banal slice of baguette dipped into olive oil will evoke more enthusiasm at a restaurant table than it will at the kitchen countertop. Should high dollar caviar be served in the backseat of a car? Heavens no, you might exclaim at the notion of wasting a delicatessen on such a prosaic setting. Note that anyone presenting such an objection is likely to sincerely believe that you will simply not be able to appreciate the delicacy unless your elbows are stationed on a heavily starched linen cloth and your waiter has an endearing foreign accent. But why the heck not?! Why should the physical coordinates of our eating be a factor in our eating experience? Why should we knowingly allow our unconscious to be charmed by the smoke and mirrors of interior design sophistication when it has nothing to do with the interior of our mouths? I concede that while the setting of a meal is not an ingredient of a dish, it certainly can be an ingredient of an eating experience. The sophistication of an eating establishment creates an expectation of quality. This expectation heightens awareness. This heightened awareness becomes a platform for mindful eating. And mindful eating is the best chef. But is it not an insult to our mind that for us to enjoy half-way decent food we have to be primed to expect it to be great?! Is this not a measure of our experiential impotence that we have to rely on presentation to attend to what is already present?!
Rebel against the set-up of the setting, against the setting up of expectations. Rebel against the elegance and eloquence of these Pavlovian bells and whistles that have conditioned us to expect more out of less. If you can’t enjoy caviar or some other exquisite gourmet item in the backseat of your car, throw it away because you can’t enjoy it anywhere. If the backseat of your Ford Taurus is good enough to make love, why is it not good enough to make love to a $250 Fritz Knipschildt dark chocolate truffle?! So, what am I proposing here? If you are going to eat well-heeled food… try eating it in the comfort of your flip-flops. Why? To minimize the distraction of the setting and to allow yourself maximum mindfulness to appreciate the exotic taste.
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (October 29, 2009)
Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2011