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Eat, Pray, Love
March 10, 2011 - Regina Gonzalez
The 2006 memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love is a tale of a woman’s journey of discovery. Food in this memoir most definitely represents fulfillment and happiness. In her written account Gilbert tells the reader of her experiences in Italy, India and Indonesia. She decided to take the trip after she divorced her husband. She wanted to find the things her failed marriage had left her without: fulfillment, faith, love. Gilbert spent four months in each country and learned that things like happiness and fulfillment could be found in a simple plate of food.
While in Italy she spent her time living the life and eating the traditional food. There she learned the power food as itself. Nothing fancy, just the simple fact that food can make a person happy. As she traveled through Italy eating the gourmet cuisine, she realized that eating can comfort a human soul. Whether it be skinned knee during childhood or the loss of a loved one later in life, a slice of Mom’s chocolate cake or a homemade cookie releases endorphins and makes the pain a little less. At this part in her journey, Gilbert is depressed after her divorce. Once she starts trying these wonderful Italian dishes like Neapolitan style pizza and prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe, finding a new love isn’t important. She is content in discovering these new things on her own. There will always be things in life that are disappointing, that make us unhappy, but food is something that will never do that. It’s a way of gaining fulfillment, something to make you happy, and not anyone else; a personal fulfillment.
In India, the idea of food as fulfillment goes deeper as Gilbert begins to discover her spiritual side. India is a country rich with spiritual culture. During her time there Gilbert realizes one can be spiritually hungry. Growing up she had many doubts and questions about religion and having blind faith, but after her stay in India she learned to fill that void. She learned to just believe. Any faith is good faith. These facts are also something Gilbert links to food. Eating can be a spiritual in itself. In India Gilbert learns of their spiritual culture, much of it involving traditional food. On the last stop of her journey, she makes the most powerful connection between food and fulfillment. While in Indonesia she falls in love with a Bali factory owner. Love is a feeling that is made up of many different components. In Indonesia Gilbert realizes love is a combination of spiritual fulfillment and happiness. Love can also be fulfilled by food. Basically, throughout her trip, Gilbert has discovered the ultimate power behind the mere act of cooking and eating. Food is about discovery and fulfillment, not just consuming. Just like life is not just about striving, it’s about actually living.
Life is a hard journey in itself, filled with heartbreak, despair and many unanswered questions. As travelers on this journey we should be like Elizabeth Gilbert and learn to fill our own plates in any way we can.
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