My topic today has to do with goodness. I guess it's always about goodness, isn't it. Anyway, I'm talking food and I'm wondering how long good is good. Nothing to do with freshness here -- I'm talking about fine dining. How long before the skies darken, and the fine dining turns downright ugly? See, two nights ago my brother and I celebrated my parents' birthdays (only three months late - pretty good for us) at a five-star restaurant. Fine dining, indeed. Many courses of rich and surprising food, the worst of them good, and the best of them astonishingly good (would you ever think to combine foie gras and creme brulee? Me neither, but it can be astounding. That's it in the picture, if you are wondering). We rose several hours after we sat down, and I have to say it was a wonderful time.
Last night I did the fine dining thing again. Another long and luscious dinner with colleagues at a different well-known restaurant. Great food again, but as I got up I felt a little less ... happy than I had been the night before. It's not a question of quantity -- I didn't overeat -- but there is enough richness inside me to make me feel like the suitcase I am packing right now to go to Humber College to teach for a week -- stuffed is what I am getting at. (Must ask any foodies out there: what's with the black cod? Forget about whether it's really cod -- why black? Cause it doesn't look black on my plate. Is it a simple selling feature, like calling the beer Black Ice? I suppose if you called it Off-white Cod, or Pale Cod, or Mottled Cod you might have trouble selling it. But what's wrong with Spring Cod or Yearning Cod or Organic Cod or ... anyway, just curious.)
There's another fine dinner scheduled for tonight, and I am not ready for it. I expect I shall want a cup of tea and a rusk. Maybe a bowl of clear soup. My body simply can't take it.
So for me good is not always good. Or maybe superlative is not as long-lasting as good. There are several places to take this discussion. One is the plane of emotion -- what one of my favorite mystery novelists calls the difference between bread and butter love and cake love. I can subscribe to that -- but only up to a point. No, I can't eat cake every meal. But what about the other emotions: is long-lasting everyday anger -- bread and butter anger -- better than the explosive cake anger? I don't know. Is the droopy daily drippy sorrow better than the downpour that clears up?
I'll leave you with this. I could eat spaghetti, say, or peanut butter, or my mom's chicken stew with onions, more regularly than fois gras creme brulee, but I could drink good wine forever. I would not need a periodic dose of plonk to calm down my insides. With wine, good remains good, and better is better, forever. I'm not used to fine drinking -- but I want to be.