Pondering the Feast


I knew exactly what I wanted for yesterday’s feast day dinner: steak frites. That’s steak and French fries, but not just any steak and fries; hanger steak on the rare side of medium-rare with Bernaise sauce, and shoestring fries with some kind of aioli for dipping, and a glass of red wine. A classic French meal.

So I did what I do best and searched the interwebs for a restaurant in the city where I could find what I was looking for at the last minute on a Sunday night. The Bay Area is foodie Mecca, so there were plenty of places that came up on my screen. I read a few reviews, and it only took a few clicks before a reservation was made at Florio, and off we went.

The meal did not disappoint. I ate slowly and mindfully, and savored each bite, grateful that the portion wasn’t too large, as leftovers would do me no good! (Though I could have given them to Glenn, but still….) I loved the interplay of flavors — beef and red wine and the creamy Bernaise with just the right amount of tarragon. The fries were crispy perfection and the lemon aioli for dipping was delish. I love French food, there is no denying it.

Over cappuccinos and a scoop of tangerine sorbet for me, chocolate gelato for Glenn, I soaked in the dim-lit ambience of this French-Italian oasis in the middle of San Francisco, imagining we had been transported to Paris, delighted to have found yet another wonderful eatery in our City by the Bay.

I have walked into restaurants like this, ordered food like this, and eaten every molecule on my plate like I did last night, and enjoyed dim-lit ambiences probably hundreds of times. I have swooned over sumptuous French meals more times that I can count, both in the U.S. and, for one magical week, in Paris. Without batting an eye.

And then the check came.

Before tip, our meal was $90, which for San Francisco and the quality of food, was not exorbitant. But when third-world families are spending $1 per day on food…well, that math is easy. Suddenly $90 for one meal seems over the top. When I thought of how many times we’ve dropped that much (or more) on a meal, it gave me pause.

I’m still pausing, wondering how to move forward after this Lenten season. Glenn and I enjoy trying new restaurants.  Half the fun for me is researching those restaurants, looking at menus, and reading reviews. I’m a self-proclaimed, card-carrying foodie, who loves to read cookbooks and watch cooking shows and chef competitions, and to try my hand at gourmet cooking of all sorts. “Julie and Julia,” “Ratatouille,” and “Babette’s Feast” are among my all-time favorite movies.

I don’t think God is asking me to cease and desist all of the above, but perhaps to consider some restraint. What that looks like, I do not yet know. But I do know this Lenten journey is changing my perspective on food. “Think globally, act locally” comes to mind.

I remain paused, pondering and praying.

Would love to hear your thoughts on these questions or anything else you’d like to add:
• How much is “too much” to spend on one meal?
• What was the most you’ve ever spent on a meal and would you do that again?
Why or why not?
• Does the “foodie culture” need restraint? And if so, how so?


2 thoughts on “Pondering the Feast

  1. katherynk

    · How much is too much depends on your income.
    · I don’t know the most I ever spent on a meal, but it would have been for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
    · Yes.

    1. Nina Wichman Post author

      Hi Kathy!

      Thanks for your response! (Sorry I don’t have a prize for you for being the first responder.)

      I’m not sure if I think “too much” depends on your income. Looking only at personal finances, then for sure. But looking more globally…taking into account how many poor and hungry people there are in our own backyards, let alone in the third world, I wonder if there is an amount that most everyone would think is “too much.” I don’t have the answer AT ALL. Oprah could easily drop $1,000 on one of those hamburgers that come with 24K gold flakes on top, and she’d not miss that money for a second. But should anyone spend $1,000 on a hamburger? I don’t know.
      In our capitalistic, individualistic society, it’s everyone for him/herself. But I think that’s also part of the problem. I do not pretend to have the answer. And I have spent LOTS of money on food over the years (some of it with you! 🙂 ) which is at least part of why I think God is having me look more closely at all of this. (And don’t worry…I’m still taking you out for dinner when I come visit!!) ❤


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