For the Love of Food We live in a world that is so fast paced, so full of hustle and bustle and complications. There are days where people stress themselves to the point of physical illness and where life seems to be anything but pleasant and enjoyable. Then there are the days that are so stimulating, so full of excitement and pleasure, the memory plasters to the inner walls of your brain.
My favorite memories are the hours spent laughing in the warm kitchen, using my hands, mouth and nose as guides while my mom teaches me a new family recipe. In The Bone Garden of Desire, uthor Charles Bowden shows his philosophy of life through the use of detailed and poetic language. I will show that the main theme of this piece is the pursuit of a higher quality of life through the appreciation of food, through indulging in the satisfaction one receives from food; tasting, preparing, cooking, examining, feeling, desiring and eating it.
I will discuss how Bowden describes memories of cooking and eating with friends, he uses historical references to emphasize the significance of food in our lives, and his incorporation of recipes to show how food and cooking increases Bowden’s quality of life. Bowden attains a higher quality of life through memories of cooking and sharing the love of food with friends. Although he reflects on the lives of his friends prior to their deaths and the reader is made aware of how each character passes away, the story is truly about appreciating life.
He paints a vivid picture as he describes one of his favorite memories with his friend Art Just months before he passes and becomes part of Bowden’s bone garden, The beef was tender, the chiles hot, but not too hot, just enough to excite the tongue, and the seasonings bite, the garlic licks the taste uds, and I began to float on the sensations as Art drank his beer and the plants grew and stirred, the hummingbirds whizzed overhead and then hovered before my face, my tongue rubbed against the roof of my mouth, and it is all a swirl of sensation as I remember that summer day cooking (Bowden 31) Bowden’s passion for food is splashed across every page; his poetic use of language makes you want to eat each word, and devour the food he describes, as you read it off the page. Although death is present throughout the story, Bowden’s love of food nd appreciation for life outshines any sorrow; lessons are learned, and one is left with a sense of personal gain. Death is naturally part of life and part of living is the relationship we have with food; eating, preparing and cooking it.
Bowden’s use of historical culinary facts and stories is scattered throughout the narrative as a way to emphasize the importance of food in our lives. The opening anecdote of a famous composer supports Bowden’s philosophy, “Rossini, the great opera composer, could recall only two moments of real grief in his life. One, when his other died. And the second time was out on a boat when a chicken stuffed with truffles fell into the water and was lost” (30). Bowden’s narrative is not told in cnronologlcal order. HIS tales are snared In a scattered, almost clrcular, story-telllng fashion. This is his way of provoking the reader to exercise and challenge their thought processes, this is part of what makes his story so complex.
Where at times the reader may feel lost in the story Jumping from paragraph to paragraph, from one big event to the next, Bowden’s strategic placement of intriguing food facts and istorical significances puts the reader back on track to the theme of the story; enjoyment of food for a higher quality of life. Just as the memories of cooking with friends enlightens Bowden’s life, so too does the drive to share the recipes with others. The memories that Bowden shares, exemplifies the strong emotions that rise in connection with sharing food and time with friends cooking. “l can still taste the salsa and smell the cilantro and feel that rocking motion as he tries to show me the right way to wield the knife. And to make salsa, his salsa, as he learned it from his wife, Josie, who learned from her parents nd back into the brown web of time” (41).
He continues on, sharing a salsa recipe that was passed on to him; the recipe that he holds so dear to his heart, Put five or six sixteen-ounce cans of whole tomatoes into a big pot, reserving the liquid. Coarse- grind the tomatoes in a food processor, a short pulse so they come out in chunks and not puree. Now add them to the reserved Juice. Cut up two or three bunches of GREEN ONION, in very thin slices so that you end up with tiny circles. Now very finely cut up a bunch of CILANTRO. Add five cans of diced GREEN CHILES, a teaspoon of GARLIC POWDER, and the onion and cilantro to the tomatoes and their Juice. Sprinkle a teaspoon of two of OREGANO. Taste it and adjust seasoning. Now start crushing CHILTEPINS (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare) and add to taste. Add salt. Taste again.
Keep crushing chiltepins until it is right for your tongue (41) For Bowden, sharing these recipes with readers is a way to keep the tradition alive, to keep the food alive, to keep the memories of his friends alive, and lastly, to keep the warm feeling of sufficing an appetite, Alive. We live in a world where life demands that people stay on their toes, think quickly nd hustle from task to task. In a life that is so fast-paced, it is important to take some time to Just indulge in desires, “Things Just are. And if you look around, theyre pretty good. Have a cold beer, a warm meal. And take in the countryside” (38). In The Bone Garden of Desire, Charles Bowden demonstrates his philosophy that through the appreciation of food, through indulging in the satisfaction that is received from food, one is able to achieve a higher quality of life. To put it simply, in the words of Bowden “l eat, therefore I am” (33).