A yoga teacher of mine once said, "you can't build a castle on a big pile of cow poop!" She actually used a stronger--ahem--word to end her little truism, but this is a P.G. blog, and I think you get the point. She was talking about foundations at the time, specifically, as I recall, how one sets their hands on the ground before kicking up into a handstand. Of course this is true; even if you could--and I can't!--balance in handstand with one arm turned in and the other peeling off the ground, you would not be creating the most optimal, most satisfying, and most beautiful pose.
If you are even a semi-regular reader of this blog, I think you know where I'm going with this one. You simply cannot create the most beautiful, most delicious and most satisfying meal without having a strong foundation to start, and that foundation is the quality of your ingredients.
We've all, no doubt, had the experience of a meal that completely lacked any foundation whatsoever. The airport salad, with watery lettuce and tomatoes that taste like they never saw the sun, berries in the dead of winter, or the desperation meal from one of many chains that shall go unnamed here. That's not what I'm talking about exactly; those meals never had a chance. I am referring to those meals when you invited friends, but then forgot, or got extra busy, and didn't have time to go to the farmer's market, couldn't muster the energy to get to the nice produce stand, thought you'd save the trip across town and settle for the bread that is fine but that you don't love.
And you know what? You could make a perfectly acceptable meal, even a pretty tasty one. With a few more shakes of the saltcellar, another teaspoon of curry powder, friends that provide great conversation, an extra bottle of wine, and a partner who does the dishes, you might not even notice! But then you also would have proved my point? You wouldn't have noticed; you wouldn't have raved about the delicious salad, paused to comment on the gorgeous fresh shell bean gratin, been stopped dead in your tracks by the caramelized juices of a plum crostata.
Is it easy to do all of this? To make the extra trip for a special ingredient, to shift your schedule to make it to the farmer's market, to find or get to a butcher who sources responsibly from farmers he knows, to go to the wine shop rather than the super market. No, it's not easy. It's no easier than remembering to set your hands perfectly on the ground--and not let them move!--before flinging yourself through space into a handstand. But with time it gets easier, it becomes habit and, you wouldn't have it any other way because you realize that anything less would be settling, and settling is never transcendent.