Mindful Moment: Birthday lunch

A bowl of soup, mindfully eaten, can be a soothing path to transcendence.

The restaurant was slammed. Patrons occupied nearly every seat, and voices rose as they vied to be heard over each other.

“She didn’t even call me back.”

“I’m not saying it’s wrong, just–”

“Put your brother’s sandwich down.”

I managed to find a little corner table that barely had room for my feet and my purse, let alone my bags from a successful shopping trip. I had birthday money to burn and this lunch at one of my favorite spots was the last indulgence.

I sat, de-bagged, took a deep breath. Then another, letting the warm smells of bread and soup and sweets wash over me. The noise of many people in not enough space became a soothing white noise, humming along in the back ground.

I had been handed my dessert and rather than sit and wait with proper patience, I decided to begin with what I had. The first bite of the torte was a deep chocolate explosion. The rich, bitterness was immediately replaced by a creamy sensation as the sweet nature of the treat asserted itself. The layer of chocolate ganache melted against the roof of my mouth. I let out an audible, “Mmmm.”

The breath that passed through my nose only heightened the flavors: rich chocolate, cream, and something fruity- a hint of raspberry perhaps.

I thought the second bite might be the same, but this time the cake layer took the foreground. Each crumb taking its time to break down, lingering on the back of my tongue. I made my way through it, bite by blissful bite, relaxing into the present moment.  Every few bites I cleared my palate with a sip of Diet Coke, and a deep breath or two.

I was convinced of my own satiety when the waitress brought my French onion soup. The rich, salty broth flowed over my tongue and warmed me deep within. The onions were perfectly soft and savory. Every inhale brought with it the scent of thyme and comfort. The crusty croutons added a delightful crunch, a sour, starchy flavor that played counter point to umami of the broth.

I could not have ended my afternoon with a deeper satisfaction, letting the world fall away, letting my senses dictate my attention, letting a birthday lunch become a mental rebirth in the midst of a hectic day.

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