Mmm. The truffle. The root, the treasure, the uber-tuber. It was the inspiration behind my first food blog years ago, also called A Truffle In the Rough. This post is as much a nod to the past as it is about how the transcendent delicacy changed my life forever.
Sure enough, I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I was lucky to have been introduced to the joys of the truffle when I was a 19 year-old art student/musician in NYC. Up until that moment, I had nursed a vague appreciation for food: that with which we nourish our bodies and our minds. But one fragrant bite of truffle — it was a black Perigord — sent me reeling and opened my eyes. Oh….FOOOOOD. Truthfully, I don’t recall what that first dish was exactly. All I remember was a great veil had been lifted before me and I was high off the mist. Could this be true? Could it be that food does more than nourish the mind and body, but the soul itself?
A question fit for Neitzsche to ponder, and for Jung to have answered without hesitation, “Yes, my child.” And I would find myself nodding like a bobble-head looking out the rear window of a moving car, pasted to the seat, excited and out of my mind in anticipation of the next meal. “Carl, where are you taking me?” Nonchalantly, “Oh, it’s a surprise…” Bobity-bobity-bobity-bobity-bobity…
Maybe it’s one of those things that happens when your kidself catches a glimpse of a world you never thought existed. But the title of this post indicates something more. For me, it is about being who you are no matter what you’re faced with in life, no matter where you are in the world. Because to me, without that, a true lust for life is simply not possible. You are merely escaping, rather than, as a bon vivant, embracing the totality of the moment. Correct?
If you are like a truffle, you haven’t many places to go since you’ve got your head stuck in the dirt on the root of a tree. [Thankfully we are not truffles and exercise some amount of agency in the world, but stay with me on this.] As a truffle proper, the dirt is what you know, and the dirt is where it’s happening… so maybe you’ll grow. And maybe you’ll flourish. And maybe a specially-trained dog will find you just in time sniffing along, nose to a frosted ground in February, and maybe you’ll be served on a delectable plate of cream sauce and ravioli on the other side of the globe. Maybe you’ll party with a dangerously deep Cabernet on the palate of a king or queen. Or maybe you’ll find your true love in a warm country kitchen somewhere in the Patagonian wilderness.
You just never know…
And beyond the silhouette of one’s identity, is, always, the food. And with the food there is always the ritual, the necessity for the joy that feeds. The tall glass of bordeaux sits near the winking knife and fork, tempting you to pull another sip from its bouquet. Do you dare? I dare.
Because I’m hungry!