Last week, a reader of my post said, “Oh that’s what you mean by the “bella vita!”, commenting about our downtown European lifestyle of walking to local shops and living locally. This is a blog born out of a desire to write about what I’ve learned over the years through my marriage with an Italian (click here to read more about the birth). Over time it has also become a quest to learn from healthy aging research, the mediterranean diet, yoga, my practice as a psychotherapist, and, more recently for me, mindfulness meditation.
Last night, at a friend’s house, Matt commented that he liked how I segued from big box store shopping to a recipe. Often, the bella vita lifestyle lives in the metaphor of food and is given meaning through the practice of cooking and the food itself.
Take this simple dish as an example. What’s not to love about eggs on toast with the added flavors of the earthy mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, garlic, and wine topped with a drizzle of truffle oil? The process, from start to finish embodies how we enjoy our day-to-day life, focussed on the moments, the joy of flavor, the fruits of our labors, the sit-down meal as a family to connect with one another.
I baked the bread in morning after it sat overnight in a bowl to rise (click here for the easy bread recipe). This illustrates our value about food being made from scratch, trying to eat meals that our grandparents would have known, attempting when at all possible to avoid processed food products. This focussed attention is good for the soul as it affords an opportunity for awareness in the moment to moment preparation of something so basic as the daily bread.
This lunch also shows a joy for the aesthetic. What a pleasing combination of colors in the plate of reds and oranges and browns and the layers of textures in the firmness of the mushrooms alongside the delicate whites and the silky yolks. And then, when tasted, a similar aesthetic of the palate with the earthy richness of truffled mushrooms the savory eggs with hints of sweetness from the wine all on a crunchy thick sliced home-baked toast.
Our bella vita is also illustrated in quantity. This one egg on toast with truffled mushrooms was satisfying as our meal, alongside a simple green lettuce salad tossed with salt and EVOO, and a glass of wine. My initial thought was that I needed two eggs to make it a meal and Marco encouraged me to experience our meal and know the satisfaction of enough. After the egg on toast with mushrooms and the salad, we finished with fruit, a small dessert, and ended with an espresso.
Bella vita is also illustrated by health. The health of a well-balanced meal of proteins, nutrients, and vitamins. Mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and proteins by themselves. Added to that, the protein from the egg, the vitamins from the green leafy salad, and the fruit contribute to the bodies need for sustenance and promotion of health and wellness.
And our bella vita life is in the way we prepare and enjoy our time together. Marco and I share the work, making the meal, just being together in our focussed efforts, sometimes chatting and sipping wine while we attend to our tasks. Matteo sets the table. We toast to the meal with a “chin chin” of our glasses with deliberate eye lock and a “buon appetito“!
Once again, this recipe comes from Christine Watson’s “500 Tapas: the only tapas compendium you’ll ever need”.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 eggs (she uses quail eggs but we used chicken eggs)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 14 oz. mixed wild mushrooms (we made sure that some porcini are included)
- 3 tablespoons white wine
- 4 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted
- drizzle of white truffle oil (we used black truffle oil)
- melt the butter on high heat, add the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms
- cook 2-3 minutes, adding the wine for the last 30 seconds
- serve over the toast slices
- fry the eggs in hot olive oil
- place over the mushrooms and drizzle with truffle oil