Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world
Rite of Passage Five -Lower Case Gourmet-
Can the balanced association of wine with food be seen as an “art” form or is it a beautifully presented indulgence leading, occasionally, to an addiction?
I own an original oil painting of the Breton coastline and early morning fishing boats by Francois Carbu. It is a work of art that I choose to look at quite often, I find it quite motivating with its early morning energy. If it were not in its place I would miss it. Is it therefore addictive?
I think not.
Recently I purchased a CD by Helene Grimaud that was simply titled. ‘Water’. It too is a work of art that I enjoy listening to, especially since it blends with my own work of imagination with a river. If it were not on my player I would miss it. Is it therefore addictive?
I think not.
Some would argue that a perfectly balanced seafood dish like Crepes Fruits de Mer served with say a Batard Montrachet (a classic white French Burgundy) is also an ‘art form’
If it were readily available to me on a good menu in an excellent restaurant, would I choose it? You bet your boots I would! Is it therefore addictive?
I am pleased by my painting and music but I am pleasured by the perfect juxtaposition of great food and superb wine. I see the painting and I hear the music but with the food and wine I see, I smell, I taste, I touch and can also, in some cases hear, as in ‘sizzle’? I can be fully engaged in multiple senses all at the same time to which I can add the heady enjoyment of the wine that so brilliantly transports alcohol into my bloodstream where it provides the sense of ‘wellbeing’.
I grew up in this environment; from the age of eleven I was introduced to great food and fine wines. The ‘pleasures of the table’ were explained to me as one of the chief pursuits of man and amongst the great ‘virtues’ of the epicurean tradition. Some of our customers were true ‘gourmands’ others were simply searching for a pleasant experience. Both often wound up quite ‘jolly’, to the point at which driving might not have been such a good idea. Were they addicted? That I cannot answer, all I can say is that they often returned and seemed, for the most part, to be well satisfied. I was pleased that they were pleased.
Looking back I can see how my interest in wine with food began when I was about fourteen. It was only experimental sips, but it came with very informed explanation and I listened carefully. Eventually (as you will find out) I became so practiced in this ‘art form’ that I became addicted to the ‘idea’ rather more than the underlying alcohol. I ‘knew’ the great wines even when presented in ‘blind tastings’ with labels wrapped in fine white damask. I became impressed by my ability and how it was admired by those with good palettes.
That…was to be my addiction and that’s how it began.
So…what about now?
There are, in the United States alone, about 17 million households where at least one individual is addicted to alcohol and where the least amount, no matter how brilliantly wrapped in a fine wine, could result in harm. I have become interested in this and other kinds of self harm for at least the last forty three years. In 1975 I decided that my well know enjoyment of wine whilst I cooked on television might have triggered a desire to join me in “just a short slurp”. Many have told me that they had done just that and for the most part there was no down side. There were those “odd” times when real harm followed such a joy filled performance and it was these that eventually got my attention.
I quit in 1975.
Do I think that food and wine can be an addictive ‘art form’? When its enjoyment becomes a ‘driving passion’ then yes, I do believe, it can.