“We are living the fast life, instead of the good life.” — Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness
One of the main ideas of the Slow Movement is that by taking more time to experience the things that we do every day, we will add richness to our lives. The concept can be applied to cooking, eating, exercise, travel and relationships.
I biked the Tuscan Coast in Italy last fall. We attended a cooking class in a private home. Everything was made from scratch and it was a fun group effort. The food was simple and amazing. When I returned home, I learned that the slow food movement started in the ’80s in Italy. It is largely credited to Carlo Petrini and was a backlash to a McDonald’s opening in Rome. The slow food idea encompasses local food and sustainable farming. Cooking is fun for me when I take the time to savor the color, texture and aroma of the ingredients as I cook. Farmers markets are growing due to increased demand. Shopping is a different experience when we can talk to the person who grew our food.
If you don’t cook or feel you have time for slow cooking, try slow eating. The slow food idea also includes enjoying food in a leisurely manner, ideally with family or good friends. If you are alone, it’s a great time to practice mindful eating. Look at the presentation of your food. Enjoy the colors, shapes and textures of food. Linger in the fragrance of your food and it will likely taste better. Put your fork down between every bite. Studies show people also lose weight by just slowing down eating, as it takes 20 minutes before our stomach tells our brains we are full.
For years I have participated in the slow travel movement. It is defined as connection to culture during a trip rather than trying to see as many sites and museums as possible. Once in Sweden, my travel companion set out a three-day schedule including over a dozen tourist sites. I told him I would see him at dinner. I spent over an hour sitting in a park just watching how people lunch. I chose our Italy bike trip, as it was off the beaten path. One town had a winter population of 40 residents. By biking on our own at times (and getting lost) we interacted with local residents. We stayed in some small agricultural hotels and visited family owned vineyards and olive farms. I have friends who have lived in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cambodia and Peru. Trips to these countries always included taking public transportation and visiting the homes of local friends.
I am a runner. Years ago at a lecture at a race exposition, we were challenged to run one slow race a year. Rather than going for a personal best we were asked to slow down to enjoy the scenery and notice any spectators along the route. A hush of shock and total disbelief fell over the room. How could anyone dare tell us type A’s to slow down? I now practice Chi Running. Developed by Danny Dryer in 1999, it uses Tai Chi principles. Speed is not an immediate goal. Running pain free is important. I now run in nature centers and have slowed down. I enjoy running so much more than when I just wanted a fast finishing time.
The slow movement is against multi-tasking all the time. Some groups are setting a rule that unless it is an emergency, the first person to look at a cell phone during dinner pays the bill. Back when I worked over 50 hours a week, I would sometimes bring a few bills or paperwork when I went to visit my grandmother. She was upset. She came from a generation where when you visited someone, you gave that person your undivided attention. That was a golden time for deeper connection I missed out on.
As in most things, my grandmother was right on that one.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.” — Mae West, actress