Food is Not a Four-Letter Word

I heard a rumor. A pizza restaurant reopened for the season just above Tutto per Tutti market.

I waited until noon, then grabbed my jacket and – did I say above the market – the market that is 228 steps above me?

I’ve learned to do twenty steps then rest. Twenty more then rest. That way I make it to the top without exciting my heart to the point of beating itself right out of my chest!

I ascended and found the road that took me higher. At the top was La Moressa, a white-washed cafe with tables overlooking the sea. I went inside and greeted the man behind the counter.

“You’re open,” I said.

“Yes, the door is open,” he replied.

“Do you have pizza?”

“Yes, we have.”

“I’ve been waiting for days to have pizza. Everything is closed. I’m so excited! May I see a menu?”

“Yes, Signora, but perhaps you will come back. We don’t serve until five.”

I’m not dismayed. I’ve found a restaurant that serves pizza and it will be open tonight at five. I don’t have to go through any tunnels. It’s literally directly over my head. I’ll be there!

On my way down I stopped at Tutto per Tutti. I wanted pepperoni. It’s a meat I recognize.

I had big plans for this sausage…

…and the oven I’d yet to touch.

Has a pan ever been watched so closely? Was the heat actually on? Patience paid off. Soon the cheese was bubbling and turning a light caramel color. I sat down to an open-faced sandwich fit for angels: focaccia bread base, tomato sauce laced with juicy chunks of green and black olives, thinly sliced pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella.

I took my plate and wine to the terrace.

The flavors romanced my tongue. I groaned with pleasure licking my greasy tomato-stained fingers. The Remole Toscana provided a perfect balance of bold yet subtle support to the rich meal.

Then, holding true to my latest intention (which you’ll hear about shortly) I opened the package of white chocolate covered figs, poured a little more wine, and exponentially upped the ecstacy factor.

Warm Mediterranean sun and lapping waves, birdcalls, soft breezes, felt like all the dreams I’ve ever dreamed of paradise.

So what’s going on with the sudden focus on FOOD? Sit back. It’s a story.

Several months ago I was gifted an astrological reading. But this wasn’t an ordinary birthchart recap. This one centered around Ceres, an asteroid that represents food, nurturing, relationships, and all the phases of a woman’s life.

It was, as readings should be, affirming, uplifting, and had ah-ha moments that astounded me. Beauty, the practitioner said, played a huge role in my life. But the planet Saturn maintained a strong presence which indicated starvation.

Starvation, she continued, can be other than food. Neglect by parents, not enough approval, not enough love are all forms of starvation as understood by this reading. It may also indicate harsh dieting. Fasts. Self-inflicted restrictions around what is eaten, how much, and when. What she said resonated.

At the end of our session she summarized. I had a healthy relationship with food. I didn’t live to eat, I ate to live. I wasn’t ruled by food nor did I use it for comfort, distraction, or as a substitute for pleasure. I had low expectations for food unlike much in our modern culture, she said.

I felt pretty good about myself after the reading. I’d basically been given a green light to keep doing what I was doing.

When I landed in Italy, on the shelf in my house was a book: The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister. It was the only one in English besides a guidebook.

Strange title, I thought. It will either be superbly boring or, with a title like that, quirky.

About one-third of the way through I started getting uncomfortable.

At the half-way point awareness lights were flickering on.

I cried at the end, something I haven’t done with a book for a very long time. Yes, the characters were intelligently and lovingly portrayed. Yes, the writing was beautiful to the point, almost, of poetry. Yes, the story was compelling and the plot nicely resolved. But that’s not what brought me to tears.

In contrast to the author’s voluptuous, tantalizing, reverent treatment of food I saw my starvation.

But it went far beyond that. The connections were heartbreakingly clear. My hostility toward food had drifted over everything in my life and cast shadows where sunlight should have been. I’d held myself too tightly for true intimacy. I was far too regimented to let loose and love. I hated to grocery shop, hated to cook…and, Play? What was that?

I remember my mother coming to visit me at one point in my mid twenties. She opened the refrigerator to a lone head of lettuce. Turning a worried frown toward me she asked, “Honey, what do you eat?”

“Lettuce…?” I shrugged.

Since moving to Bali eight years ago, I’ve been happy. Insanely happy. Food has become more interesting and I’ve developed an obsession for nachos, probably because good ones are next to impossible to find. A cafe in the rice fields has amazing black rice pudding and coconut gelato. I order it with Vietnamese coffee.

But after reading Essential Ingredients, I’ve gained a broader perspective. Food is life, and if I want to experience all life has to offer, I need to radically change my relationship to food. I want to invite food to take its honored place in my life. I want to take time to prepare delicious meals and then to eat mindfully, submerged in flavors and textures and the joy of sustenance.

Is it any accident that Erica Bauermeister’s book was on my shelf? That I’ve come to Italy to gain clarity for the path ahead? That food would show up as a central issue in a place where food and love go hand-in-hand? And that I’d be so ready?

Ah! The magic. The synchronicity.

Ahhhhh! Italy!

So…before you ask…yes. I went back to La Messaro tonight and had a PIZZA!!!!!

Gorgonzola and walnuts. With wine. And tiramisu for dessert.

And then…

I walked home. Down all those stairs. In the dark!

It got darker

and darker

and darker

until there was no light at all. Yikes!

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 04:59:12

    Congratulations! It’s perfect isn’t it?
    🍕🍷

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Anonymous
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 05:52:09

    Brilliant Sherry – am enjoying your journey. Now all you need is a gorgeous hunk of an Italian chef to help you continue on your journey – to help you explore the sensuous tastes you have already found.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Carol
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 06:08:13

    Loved it – except for the dark walk:(

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 16, 2020 @ 13:53:23

      I was not fond of the dark walk either! I’m not frightened of being harmed by people, but those steps are very un-uniform in height and many slope downward. Treacherous if you can’t see where you’re going!

      Like

      Reply

  4. Gail
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 07:20:43

    Enjoy those wonderful food moments! Can imagine those long, dark steps home – very brave.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. relationshipvisionblog
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 09:01:24

    Having met you Sherry, and becoming friends with you, I sensed there was something missing with you and food, I couldn’t put my finger on it though it spoke loudly to my unconscious. I’m joyful that the stars have aligned to give you a new and more positive relationship with food. And now enjoying your blog, I see from the few photos of yourself that you are laying yourself bare, with your face to the sun, with no makeup, just you bathed in nature’s warmth.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Feb 16, 2020 @ 14:09:09

      Isn’t it interesting that something so obvious, as I think back to all the ways I’ve rejected the joys of food, didn’t surface until now? And it took an astrological reading and a book to open my eyes! I’m grateful to be allowed this experience even if it has taken a long time. I’m not dead yet!

      Like

      Reply

  6. relationshipvisionblog
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 09:08:42

    And your ruminates of walking through the complete darkness of the night reminds me of my own rebirthing as I swam naked at the tea tree lakes in Byron .. it was pitch black in the waters though as I dove down then swam through the darkness back up to the surface,. It was as though I was emerging from the birth canal. In that moment I felt energised and renewed. I may be projecting on to you though your insights and the darkness you walked through, suggest to me a rebirthing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. stevecastley
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 09:14:05

    12 days in Italy. 20,000 steps walked and you finally get a pizza. It looks amazing and well worth the wait. I am drooling. Thanks for sharing. Keep these wonderful posts coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. writingforselfdiscovery
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 13:56:05

    I have leftovers…come for lunch!

    Like

    Reply

  9. Judi J
    Feb 16, 2020 @ 15:19:01

    Thank you for sharing this reflective piece Sherry. Your thoughts haven’t left me since reading it this morning. Not for me – self-evidently I have no problem with food – but for a long-time friend. An excellent cook and generous hostess she is in her element entertaining. But when we sit to enjoy her food, whether with two or twenty others, she will serve herself a micro portion and then only pick at it. This of course has an effect of making us feel a bit greedy for enjoying it ‘too much’. She eats to live. Now I understand her better. I know her childhood was tough; there was alcoholism and neglect. Her relationship with one child has been destroyed because of food. We had a falling out, now mended, obliquely because of food. I must read this book! And then perhaps leave it lying around. Thank you. I am enjoying your Italian sojourn – can Bali seduce you back?

    Liked by 1 person

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