Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spices of Retirement

Occasionally I’ll read or hear an article on planning your meals so that they satisfy all five of your different taste buds. If you miss any of them, you’ll walk away from the dinner table with cravings for the missing one. We’re talking about sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami (savory). If this last one is not familiar to you, think cheese or ripe tomatoes, and read up on Monosodium Glutamate (MSG).

It’s not unusual for me to walk away from meals craving more. I’m not convinced it has anything to do with the five basic tastes. The diet my sister talked me into last June has me keeping a food journal, so I know exactly what I’ve consumed and what buds have been palpitated. After about ten months, I think I know what drives me and many other seniors to forage in the pantry and the refrigerator late at night. And in the middle of the afternoon. And sometimes even mid-morning.

When you reach retirement, you have an entirely different set of tastes to be satisfied from your culinary cupboard. It’s important to address them all, or you’ll spend your golden years feeling deprived, depressed, anxious and confused. You may spend those years that way anyway, but understanding the Spices of Retirement will make this less likely.

Family Flavor. This is the most important spice in the retirement rack. It doesn’t matter if you come from a small family or a large one; or if any members live near you vs. all being far away. A meal that includes Family Flavor fills the need to feel part of a clan, to be connected to loved ones on your family tree. And even to those with whom you’ve had a long-standing feud. Once we reach retirement, savoring the feuds can be as fulfilling as feeling the love.

Holiday Memories. Sprinkle this one on anything on your plate, and you are instantly transported back to the most wonderful times from your youth. Holiday Memories have the flavor of every meal that was prepared with extra love. It’s rich in tradition. It’s also high in calories, but who cares?

Pinch of Frugality. Even retirees on a fixed budget will splurge on a fabulous meal now and then. To help you forget about how much the meal costs, be sure to have a Pinch of Frugality on your entree. As an added benefit, Frugality has a negative impact on calories. So, if your dessert is a calorific treat, a Pinch of Frugality on that will make it taste even sweeter.

Binge Fusion. Yes, we’re older, and we’re told to watch what and how much we eat. Our GPs discourage us from binging. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have the gustatory equivalent of a binge realized via our meals or snacks. A handful of Binge Fusion will taste like any number of items that you can’t eat just one of. It comes in several varieties. Pick your guilty pleasure, or lard up the pantry with several different packets of this retirement spice.

Alcohol Aspirations. Once we reach a certain age, we’re also told to cut back on alcohol. Don’t they realize that the older we are, the more a glass of fine wine transports us to places that can make us smile, lower our blood pressure and blot out the stressful world around us? No problem. A few drops of Alcohol Aspirations in your filtered water can give you the same result. It’s not as satisfying as an actual glass of wine (what is?), but it has its advantages. Just give me a few weeks to figure out what they are.

Titch of Tranquility. No retiree’s meal is complete without a Titch of Tranquility. It helps us leave the table feeling peaceful, refreshed and ready for a good nap. A small dose of Tranquility will also lower your blood pressure almost as much as a spritz of Alcohol Aspirations.

Chocolate. Period. Enough said.

There you have it. The seven essential Spices of Retirement. A meal that includes all of them is guaranteed to be as satisfying as one that tickles the five traditional taste buds. When the media finally picks up on this, remember: you read it here first.

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