Monday, August 27, 2012

The Culinary Seduction

Is this what your last meal was like?

On a scale of 1 to mind-bogglingly hot, how tantalizingly seductive are the meals that you eat throughout the day? Is yours a monotonous act of fork-to-mouth chomping, bearing no real resemblance to the culinary ritualistic masterpiece that rightfully should grace your dining table at least once a day? While your thoughts may invariably stray to Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke and their infamous late night refrigerator raiding scene from 9½ Weeks, your dining experiences don’t have to get that risqué. However, if the word excitement dares not enter your vocabulary when you think of dining, then you, my friend, are in need of a culinary intervention.

Food should be an adventure. After all, let’s face it: it’s more than just nourishment. Think of the unfettered joy that a child gets from licking an ice cream cone as the ever-melting creaminess dribbles down their arm. Adults have the right to spaz out over a good meal just the same. You don’t have to derive the same variety of adrenaline rush that you would get from, oh, say, swimming side by side with a great white shark or fleeing like a madman from rampaging livestock during the running of the bulls in Pamplona. However, on a comparative level, you can delight your taste buds with enticing sensory overload that is nearly potent enough to make you lose consciousness. Now that’s some damn good eatin’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not championing the cause of luscious, sumptuous, intoxicatingly indulgent food for every meal. If you think about that long and hard enough, that could potentially lead to 24-hour foodgasms of cosmic proportions. What I am suggesting is you take the time to plan perhaps one meal out of your day (or, if you’re faint of heart and can’t tolerate the passion, take it slow and start with one or two times a week) to indulge in a culinary banquet for the senses.

It doesn’t all have to be a feast of seduction, but at least make it a meal of singular distinction—one that stands heads and shoulders above your everyday routine. Go ahead…get a wild hair.

Wouldn't this look lovely on the breakfast table?
Picture it: Instead of a boring bowl of muesli for breakfast (granted, there’s a whole damn lot going on in that one bowl, what with the oats, fruit and nuts, but I’m just sayin’...), why not jump head-first into that early morning fantasy meal of eggs Benedict dotted with lovely dollops of caviar or a perfectly poached egg topped with smoked salmon, capers, a sprig of parsley and a side of freshly extracted passion fruit juice? Don’t be afraid to do something different.

Sushi anyone?
Lunch can be just as extravagant and you’re limited by only one thing: the boundaries of your wicked imagination. Skip the $5 foot-long sub and chips combo and, instead, opt for something more exciting. Indulge in a sandwich of a different sort—try a Monte Cristo piled high with ham, turkey, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard and you’re instantly steeped in decadence. It’s gooey. It’s creamy. It’s crispy. It’s a salt sensation. Combine that with a bowl of chunky watermelon gazpacho and, ahhhh…indulgence. Or take an extra thirty minutes for lunch and head to the nearest Japanese hibachi restaurant where the experienced chefs will flip, toss and hurl your food in all directions, providing entertainment as well as a nourishing bite. Take the hint: eating doesn’t have to be a lackluster experience.

All bets are off when it comes to dinner. From appetizers to dessert, the world is your oyster. Speaking of oysters...or clams...or mussels, even... Care to sink your teeth into a thick, juicy steak? Did I mention that a plump, succulent steak can be utterly sexy? (Okay, I totally made that up, but it got your attention and the beauty of steak lends itself to visceral satisfaction).  Does a lobster tail with sweet drawn butter tickle your fancy? How about an uncommon fish from the sea? Skate is a wonderful white fish and, cooked lovingly in a brown butter sauce with capers and lemon juice, its mild sweet flesh is divine. Kick it up a notch and luxuriate in your own culinary adventure.

Okay, here’s the bottom line: Enjoy the food that you eat; enjoy it immensely—when you eat it, how you eat it and, above all, what you eat. Humdrum and uninspiring are words to describe watching grass grow and should have no place in your vocabulary when it comes to dining. Put a little flair in your fare. Make the experience one that gives you goose bumps and makes you squeal with delight.

Once a day or once a week…however often you do it, once you start, you won’t want to look back. Instead, you’ll be looking forward to your next meal of enticing seduction. Shhh…I won’t tell…it’ll be our little secret.

So….what’s on your menu?

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