Monday, October 11, 2010

Lighthouses: Joie de Vivre

Over the weekend, I watched this special with Giada de Laurentiis in Capri. I may have never mentioned this, but Giada de Laurentiis is...well...I idolize her. I would like to downplay that little factoid, but alas...that's the truth. There isn't a show she does that I don't watch religiously, and I not only love her cooking...but, her heritage has me in ethno-envy like no one's business., now that I'm verging on creepy...let me get back to my original point...ahem.

So, we're watching this show on Saturday, where Giada roams around the Isle of Capri, showing off all the most wonderful parts, and taking us to restaurants, shops where Jackie O used to shop, etc. She arrived on the island, and immediately went to a place that roughly translated into "people rejoice". I immediately started crying. I. want. that. Are you kidding me?...a place called "people rejoice?!" I'm jealous.

I find it very difficult to be just happy, here. Going back to school has brought back a cynicism that I wasn't fully prepared for. People that are in the school I go to are bankrupt. Forget joy...decency is a delicacy. Joy is something that doesn't even register in that atmosphere. I know that, for now, this is where I'm supposed to be. Believe me...I've tried to talk my way out of on more than a bunch of occasions. However, my heart longs and aches for something else. I don't even know what it is...except for I know it's what I saw in that show. Can you imagine, in our culture, to have an entire aspect of our defining traits to be "joyful people?"

You want to know the truth...I'm kinda mad that I'm not Italian or Greek. I really feel that I should have been. I think it's the rich enjoyment of life. For heaven's sake...they have dinner for hours. They talk, laugh...heck, there's even a patio that's famous, because people sit there quietly, and people in don't do anything, or look at their phones, or anything like that...they sit around and soak in the atmosphere, and reflect on how interesting and beautiful people are. Can you imagine?

It seemed pretty silly to be crying over that show...but, it speaks to something deeper. I want that! The joie de vivre...the rich culture of enjoyment...the marinated feeling of gratefulness...I want that. I feel that...but, I want to share it with other people. I want it to be celebrated in my culture.

Do you think I need to defect?

{my tour guide through my fantasy food world}


  1. Hope this posts...having technical difficulties on this end :)

    First let me say that I don't care for Giada. Or Paula Deen. They both have crazy eyes that make me really uncomfortable. I'm more of a Alton Brown kind of gal.

    That said, I just wanted to tell you that I felt the same way as you at one point. Not Greek or Italian, but straight up Scot-Irish. I so wanted to be there and did everything I could to talk my husband into moving to the Inishowen Peninsula where my people came from. Yeah, that didn't work.

    But then it occurred to me that those people are no different than me. They laugh. They cry. They sing. They praise God. They make love. They watch their young grow and their old die. No differences there.

    The difference is in their contentment and the fact they live life intentionally. We live in a society that says material possessions will make us content. So we overwork ourselves, over-extend ourselves, indebt ourselves to get that contentment that seems to come free and naturally to other cultures. And contentment eludes us.

    And other cultures live intentionally. When they love, they LOVE. When they eat, they EAT. When they dance, they DANCE. They unabashedly enjoy life, which is sort of difficult for Americans, maybe because of our Puritan roots??? We feel guilt about loving, eating dancing. If it's enjoyable, it's probably unhealthy, inappropriate, childish.

    But you know, somewhere, you just have to stop. I decided about 2 years ago to live contentedly and intentionally. To throw caution to the wind and immerse myself in life and simple pleasures. I'll probably never make it to Inishowen, and that's okay....

    The folks in Inishowen will never sit in my backyard on a quilt my grandmother quilted 40 years ago, with 2 beautiful little tow-headed kids eating warm yellow raspberries we just picked from the vine.

    They'll never enjoy our yearly pinecone-gathering walks to the cemetery just down the road.

    They'll never watch the deer and turkeys in the field behind our house.

    They'll never see the sun rise up over the frozen pond across the road on winter mornings.

    They'll never make a holiday out of the harvest and sit in the front yard watching the combines and treaded tractors roll across the fields.

    They'll never enjoy watching the kids scramble around trying to figure out where St. Nick hid their stockings on Christmas morning while dad and I enjoy a thick slice of Stout cake.

    I get to though; those are my traditions and my culture now. Jeff and the kids are my people. And I feel like everyday is a celebration. People: rejoice indeed!

    Figure out what brings you joy, contentment, serenity, peace and follow through on it!

    If you covet those 3 hour dinners the Italians enjoy, just do it! Bring out your good dishes, set up candles. Pull out the crystal stemware. Who or what are you saving it for? There's no more special time or place than here and now. And no more special people to share it with than your husband and son.

    Being *Italian* or being *Greek* or being *Scot-Irish* means nothing. It's just a label.

    *Being* is the important part.

  2. Crikey. Did I write a book or what?

  3. I love it!! You're absolutely right;) My husband and I went to breakfast yesterday morning, and we talked a lot about just that. We live in DFW, where we are NEVER not going against the know what I mean? It gets tiresome...but, we are determined to strip it all away, and get to completely fast as possible! I'm trying desperately to learn how to "bloom where I'm planted"...even if it's not on some land, growing our own food, yet:) But, I have to say...I'll come sit in your back yard any day! That's sounds precisely like the dreams we have. We actually talked about that Puritan thing, yesterday, as well. I guess we just have to turn the tide for Americans...I feel it happening already:) Don't you?

  4. As bad as it sounds, I think this recession has been a good thing for the American spirit. I hate to hear about people losing their jobs and their homes, but I love to hear that we're staying home and watching movies together. Playing board games with our children. Taking vacations to local museums and parks. Having the superfluous stripped away goes a long, long way toward getting us back to our roots. Suddenly, we're not above where we came from, you know?

    And the next time you're in west-central Ohio, give me a holler. You're welcome to come sit in the backyard :)

    DFW? Downtown Fort Worth?

  5. PS-
    Now is a great time to learn all those traditional skills you may need/want to learn before you settle down on a chunk of land. Lots of stuff you can learn now. Cooking from scratch. Cheesemaking. Breadmaking. Sprouting. Quilting. Knitting. Sewing. DIY. Canning. Food preservation. Seed starting. Composting. Plant progagation. Seasonal eating. Start learning now! Read. Research. Start your library so that when the time comes, you won't be caught off-guard like we were LOL.

  6. Thanks for the tips! I've been cooking for a good long time, but I just recently started culinary school. It's something that we did, just so that we could have money to live on, as my husband lost his job back in January. He's a horticulturist, and I'm a chef in, we're both passionate about Real Food, so it's a match made in Heaven!:) He's going to pass the plant knowledge on to me, and I'm going to get all the other stuff down pat. Clearly, preparing traditional foods is quite a bit different than the stuff I learn in culinary, but useful nonetheless!

    By the way...DFW is how we Texans shorten Dallas/Fort Worth. I equally love and hate this place. I've lived here for over 20 years, but it's the fastest growing place in the whole US, which equals a sea of cookie cutter houses and a shopping center on every corner. Not an easy place to be us, most of the time. Lots of culture...but, VERY consumer driven.



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