The chocolate index, the cheese index… the shortbread index, forget about the lipstick index! Relatively inexpensive things to make you feel better for a bit and give you a fix during trying times is where the lipstick index is from. The term was coined by Leonard Lauder during the challenging times of the 2001. “It is a recession and you need…” as I heard someone say recently at our register, is more satisfying than lipstick. The times are tough now but in the business that we are in, although we feel the affects from the corporate giving angle, I think there is a good future in what specialty food can do to nurture, enrich and easily afford pleasure. At the same time, we can know better about what we eat, understand its provenance, feel better for it and consume it in a way that is thoughtful and does not become mindless, endless calories. And of course, as we like to say – live to eat rather than eat to live!
While traveling about in China recently hunting for baskets that we buy, it dawned on me, that food whether prepared carefully in large restaurants served family style to large communal groups or late at night on the street, grilled and at times exotic, is prepared fresh and with tremendous variety. It is enjoyed more consciously and socially, than a good bit of the American food that we know, and at times is responsible for unhealthy relationships that our culture has developed with food. In addition, food in the United States, in relation to our standard of living is inexpensive and at times compromised, without getting into the politics of it, spending a bit more on better food is good stimulus. Good food here, than becomes a very affordable luxury, and a little luxury can go along way.
Expense account living maybe off but maybe food that is not on expense accounts can be enjoyed for its intrinsic value, and thereby help to better connect with what we eat. To me there is something therapeutic about appreciating food from where it comes from, how is handled, prepared and consumed that touches our basic human needs yet gives pleasure to and better meaning to our existence. Or another words, a good piece of well made chocolate that has a bit of story behind it, can ease the tension of our times.
I like to think that visiting our Chelsea Market Baskets where we have an array of product that can be appreciated at varying price points, can put you in better touch with food that is made in an inspired way and even thanks to our “slightly past it’s best before date but still tastes good” corner, can be a great bargain. Our friend George Capsis, the publisher of West View is quick to find good deals here and likes the idea of sharing them with the “locals.” We ourselves particularly like the idea of nourishing and creating community around good food!