Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.
I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.
Because in the end Fathers' Day is about the sons and daughters. The children are the ripples of love and of honor and values and family that project from a parent's walk through life. If we were lucky enough to have great parents. And I was lucky.
She was pretty and she was French. The evening in question, three quarters of the way through a bottle of Tavel, I asked her back to my table. Mainly to hear her accent again. I had to think of a wine related question. She was the sommelier after all.
"Tell me.....I think Tavel is the greatest rose' in the world. What do you think"?
"Unquestionably. It is the only rose' with its own appellation."
My hero A.J. Liebling introduced me to it in his marvelous book "Between Meals-An Appetite For Paris" and I have been drinking it ever since when I can get it. Luminous in the bottle, its color alone foreshadows a wine of character. A wine that should not be drunk too cold but at room temperature. A wine that perfectly compliments fruit, cheese, or much hardier fare such as steak tartare or trout amandine. The only rose' that has this sort of backbone. In other words, a Rhone wine through and through.
"Tavel has a rose-cerise robe, like a number of well-known racing silks, but its taste is not thin or acidulous, as that of most of its mimics is. The taste is warm but dry, like an enthusiasm held under restraint, and there is a tantalizing suspicion of bitterness when the wine hits the top of the palate. With the second glass, the enthusiasm gains; with the third, it is overpowering. The effect is generous and calorific, stimulative of cerebration and the social instincts. 'An apparently light but treacherous rose', Root calls it, with a nuance of resentment that hints at some old misadventure."
This is National Rose wine day in the USA. If you can find some Tavel I heartily recommend it as your companion over the oncoming months of summer. Should you find yourself in my company we will share a bottle.
The term "gourmet", like so many other terms associated with enjoyment of the senses, has become something of a pejorative of late. If you google the word you will get all sorts of negative impressions. I am proud to call myself a gourmet because, to me, being a gourmet is merely a love of life expressed through dining. Dining that makes you happy. Good dining.
Gourmet dining does not require an expense account or a healthy bank balance although those items are never an impediment to high living. What gourmet dining requires is a certain state of mind. An enthusiasm for life and for the things that life presents to us every day. Being thrilled by what we eat and drink, if not on every occasion, then at least on a regular basis. Not being intimidated by the increasing anti-aesthetic tide which finds a threat buried in joyful indulgence.
The state of mind required for the true Epic gourmet should apply equally to everything in life. An ability to ignore the mundane. Searching constantly for the invigorating, the lovely and the pleasing. Possessing joie de vivre. Being full of enthusiasm and ebullience. For some reason there is no English word that aptly describes the notion. Perhaps just being "gung ho" about all the facets of our lives, including dining.
James Beard was not a trained chef but he became perhaps the most influential figure in American cooking. A fine example of the Epic Gourmet. You can tell merely from reading his books that he encountered food, and life, with an unbridled, enthusiastic spirit. A gourmet through and through. And a fine example of the Epic spirit.
William Hamilton, the outstanding cartoonist for The New Yorker for decades, passed away last Friday. He had a marvelous style of drawing and my sort of a sense of humor. I doubt he will have a replacement. I include for your enjoyment a few of my favorite cartoons he drew...
It may come as a surprise to the Epic reader that I do not typically enjoy candy. In fact, I am not usually a dessert person despite what my neo-Edwardian physique might indicate. But that does not mean that I am immune to the siren's song of a great candy.
For example, when I was shopping at the Giant Discount Store the other day for Easter provisions I was exploring their tremendous annual display of Easter candy. On one corner was a pile of boxes of Sweet's "Orange Sticks". These caught my eye because they looked "old Florida". Like something my Dad would have bought from a road-side stand on the Tamiami Trail in 1948. Like something I would love. Man was my dining spider sense right on!!!
These little candies, made by the Sweet's Candy Company of Salt Lake City since 1945 are, without question, my favorite candy of all time. They are simple little bars of orange [or raspberry, or cherry, or BLUEBERRY] jelly covered in the MOST amazing dark [or milk] chocolate. That is it. Nothing fancy. And, just like me, very old fashioned without being too conservative. They go great with strong coffee. And with cognac. And with red wine. Or with nothing at all.
The Sweet's Company has a wonderful ordering option where you can buy a mixed case of Orange, Raspberry, Blueberry and/or Cherry sticks assorted however you like. Bespoke candy. And at very reasonable prices. I am in candy heaven. Suffice to say, I am laying in a case or two of "sticks" and I will eat them every day the rest of my life. They are that good. I am sure that any Epic would agree.
In my mid 50s, husband, father and itinerant storyteller. I am a putative jazz singer, poet and novelist, dedicated to mining every minute of life for the veins of pleasure they contain. My motto is "Dum Vivimus, Vivamus"..."While we Live--LET US LIVE".