This is not my typical style of post because I am writing based on an impromptu, fun, relaxed dinner experience for one that brought me joy. Not an extravagent dinner, well photographed and perfectly plated.
I want to create an experience for you if you're interested. Select a culture, decide on a delicious meal then pick a special day (spontaneous is best) with just yourself, a friend or lover.
Elevated experience: Choose a day when the nearest farmers market is open. Grab your earphones and music, play some music to suit the mood you want to be in while you shop and don't forget to stop and talk to people along the way. A song I love that makes me feel like I'm in a slow-motion movie, on a spring day in Europe is "In a manner of speaking by Nouvelle Vague". Smell the produce, enjoy the walk and purchase the fresh items needed. Grab a new bottle of wine or spirit if you drink to go with your meal. Talk to the staff and get recommendations based on what your cooking.
When you get home use Spotify, youtube or google play and play music from the culture you are cooking. You can google ‘Romantic (Italian) cooking music’, ‘fun (Italian) cooking music’ or even ‘classic (Italian) music’ I find Spotify to be the best. Once you have the playlist, it is important to unwind, pop a bottle if you have one, take a sip and don't forget to dance when you cook it adds to the fun and good energy.
As my mother always says her secret when cooking ingredient is always TLC. My version of TLC is generating a ton of good energy and love into my food by being happy, dancing and even being grateful for the beautiful produce that has been grown or protein that has been used to nourish me.
Now that the music is on, your swaying with or without a wine or beverage in hand and you're focused on creating food with love and gratitude, you’re set for success. If something by chance burns or spills laugh it off because it’s life and you're doing this for you to have a great time.
Tip: Now that you have made your meal put love into the presentation if you want. Grab a plate or platter that is inspired by the food. What can you garnish with? Do you have a garden? If not think of what works best. For instance, if you have basil in a pesto linguine, take fresh pieces of basil and top it with something that contrasts in colour like a tomato or pepper maybe.
Elevated impression: You can have a block of parmesan but with any food or item, you have a choice in how you use it. Shaved, grated, chunky pieces and more. Consider this when doing anything. You can take the typical route or do something different which creates a different experience. You could spend $26 on a pasta at a restaurant, if the chef topped it with thinly shaved curls of parmesan on your pasta you might think of the food as high end or feel it’s possibly worth the money, but with thinly grated parmesan in a bowl, you might feel like you are eating at East Side Marios. It’s all about impression and the feeling you get when you experience something. If you want to create an experience consider that when cooking and apply it to whatever you wish.
It is always nice to go above and beyond but simple is also great. If you want to add to your experience light some candles, set the table and decorate it with things around your home that match the occasion. Special drinks with garnishes are always nice or even a classic movie in the background on mute while nice dinner music plays doesn't hurt to add to the experience.
Whether you’re eating by yourself, with a lover or friends a fun way to experience food is blindfolding.
Personal Story: After finishing work, I decided to have an impromptu dinner alone and make a fresh Italian pasta which inspired this post. I had a head tie around my hair and thought it might be fun since I was having such a great time cooking to blindfold myself and let my other senses take over while I ate. Despite it being fun, just doing something different was exciting. I could hear the sound of the creamy pasta, smell the freshness, feel the textures more and taste each bite more than ever. I also got to taste my wine and the different notes more and took my time eating.
I enjoyed the whole experience so much that I went for seconds without my blindfold and ended up eating way too quickly and without any of the same experience. I stopped myself and tried to have the same experience without the blindfold so that I could practice it more in life but I can't lie it can't compare to eating with a blindfold.
What I found from this elevated experience was that it felt brand new as if I had never really eaten, it made me want to slow down and experience more in life and wonder what is next?