The title above, without the brackets, is what the U.S. Bureau of Home Economics used to tell Americans at the time of the Great Depression of the 1930, when frugal cooking with rationed ingredients was in order.
The slogan may sound like a version of Aesop’s sour grapes fable, but I find it is delightfully and inspiringly true, and is also the pithiest summary of a lifelong quest of mine – that of portioning pleasure and having an internal, instead of external, locus of control over circumstances, decisions and life in general.
Portioning pleasure if hard, as it requires honesty, mindfulness and a sense of dignity to help one avoid the pitfalls of excess. Honesty is about this – pleasure is a driving force for humans, and can be usually found in activities related to survival, such as eating and procreation, so as to make people engage in them often and willingly.
So – no use denying eating is a pleasure. Honesty is also about admitting to occasionally using food as consolation or a coping mechanism. This basically amounts to facing uncomfortable truths about myself and deciding to do something about them. It is a glorious victory against resistance. Dignity is about realising I am in control over my life and pleasures, so I get to choose them, own them and manage them, and not just succumb to whatever comes my way.
Then comes mindfulness in planning, cooking and eating. Mindfulness is about being there and concentrating about what I do. When I have a conversation with someone, it is expected and polite that I listen and participate, right? The same applies to eating – it is a conversation with myself, a small holiday and a time of communion. When I don’t read or listen to something while I eat, I get to actually remember what my meal was, I remember tastes and textures, I experience the Proust epiphany with the madeleine.
For goodbye, I have a confession to make, dear Reader. I am much better at portioning the pleasure of eating, than I am at portioning that of working.
Be that as it may, though, see you at the office on Tuesday. Boryana