Sunday, February 1, 2015


"Carpe Diem."
           - Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 23 BC

Many of us may remember  this line, which  translates to "seize the day,"  being said by the late , great Robin Williams from the 1989 youth drama, "The Dead Poets Society." But maybe only a few will remember that it was originally written 1,966 years earlier by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (a.k.a. Horace), a Roman poet who wrote about love and the simple pleasures of life. I have to admit that I have read little of his works and I am a late bloomer when it comes to poetry but having heard it from the movie, it has been one of the few slogans in my life.

No, I'm not going to write about my darkest moments and how this simple phrase has saved my life from the depths of despondency.

This is about cheese.
It was one of those days when my pockets were light while I was at the grocer's buying the basics. But then I as I passed along the refrigerated dairy aisle, it was there.

Buffalo Mozzarella.

Swimming in cloudy brine like tiny scoops of slightly melted vanilla ice cream encased in vacuum sealed plastic packets.  I only had  enough money to buy one packet  OR the basic items I had come to the grocery for. I live in a tropical country that's 10, 575 kilometers away from Italy where Mozzarella di Bufala has been granted the Denominazione di origine controllata  (DOC-Controlled designation of origin") status. Having visited Italy in the past, I had tasted this soft, moist, springy ball of cheese. It was a divine experience I would always remember. 

Now back to the story. 

I stood there, doing math in my mind while looking at the cheese. If I bought the cheese, I would have to give up some of the items in my basket, like the soap and shampoo. And if I gave up the toothpaste, lotion and conditioner, I could get a few slices of prosciutto and some dates and nuts that would go perfectly well with the cheese.

This is where Horace and the simple pleasures of life come in. 
     "How much better it is to endure whatever will be... 
     While we speak, envious time will have already fled: 
     seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day."

You might find this a tad too dramatic but it was then that I made the choice to take life by the fermented balls  and bought the cheese, my hygiene be damned. 

Later that night, I sat down to enjoy this wonderful cheese, hair all stringy and skin as dry as the Sahara. But it did not matter. I had a slice of heaven on my plate.
I know this whole blog entry might sound shallow but it was a moment when I knew that good food made me happy. Making the choice to enjoy what I could that day wasn't much of a life or death situation but it felt good to make it, right there and then. And it certainly tasted great. Now, I know for sure that I do not eat to live but live to eat.

How about you?

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