Saturday, May 17, 2014

Catholicism and the Good Life

Today a group of friends and I ate what can only be termed a gastronomical good lunch. Thousand day aged gouda cheese, white Bordeaux, salmon filet with a cold dill sauce, choux, gelato, and a sweet white French dessert wine. I will spare you Fr. Zzzzzzz style pictures, but you get the point.

One of our clan, who has broad travel experience and a refined palate, insists that the Catholic faith and gastronomy go hand in hand—all this after discussing the anchorite monks of Egypt. In a break from the brutally functionalistic view of life held by most pagans and the excessively decadent outlook held by the rest of pagans, have not Catholic countries traditionally produce a balanced lifestyle? Is not the "good life" as we now understand it also the Catholic life?

I am not sold on the theory, but the empirical evidence is quite strong. The "first daughter" of the Church, France, produces the best food, wine, and cheese on the planet bar none. Italy, Spain, and Portugal follow suit. Lebanese Christians have their own outstanding foods, particularly their breads for holy days (get some Epiphany bread!). I find the example of Italy less convincing, but I am not partial to Italian food owing to their pathological abuse of the tomato.

My friend's counter example was English food. Indeed, in one of Agatha Christie's stories Captain Hastings asks Hercule Poirot something to the effect "Oh, you don't like our English cuisine?" to which the sleuth replies, "England does not have cuisine, it only has food. And the day England attempts to make wine is the day I return to Belgium!"

"What of gluttony?" readers ask. What of it? Francis recently canonized John XXIII, a pope so rotund my father called him the "five by five pontiff." The Angelic Doctor was so round that his desk had a cutout so he could sit at it; St. Albertus Magnus called Thomas "the ox" for just cause. And St. Therese's face retained more than a little baby fat. Holy people recognize God in many good things, a well fed life among them!

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There's always laughter and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!"

1 comment:

  1. Some day you may have the great good fortune to go to the home town of this great man

    and be Blessed to go to one of the relatively few families in Modena who produce the traditional Balsamic Vinegar. If you are so Blessed, you will never ever forget the smell inside of that family's home; it is wondrously intoxicating, especially upstairs, and when you taste the gems of Balsamic Vinegar slowly spilled out onto the local Pram-Regiano, you will be forgiven for thinking you have attained Heaven.

    And no, not one word that I wrote is overblown. It is that good; an unforgettable experience.

    And the wine country of Piemonte (NOT Piedmonte for crying out loud) is as pretty as Napa Valley and the wine is fantastic.

    O, and Genova (NOT Genoa, for crying out loud) makes Basil Pesto the way it ought to be made, not the way it is made by the likes of Ina Garten - suffocated in garlic - and since I ate it there, I have tossed-out my old recipe and I make it the traditional way they do in Genova.

    O, and every single vegetable in Italy tastes better than do the vegetables produced in America. I am not a snob and I grown my own Heirloom Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, etc but I can not compete with the produce of Italy.

    If I win the lottery, I will buy a home in Italy. I should anyways, after all, Rome is my Capital (1st Peter 2:9)