Six Simple Rules for Making Every Meal a Pleasure

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

You can make all your meals elegant by following six simple rules:

1. Pay a little extra for the principal element. For breakfast, buy great, freshly roasted coffee — and grind it yourself. For lunch, pay a little more for salmon salad rather than tuna. For dinner, buy free-range poultry or beef.

2. Use your best service. China and silverware that please you should not be saved for special occasions. Make every occasion special by treating it so.

3. Listen to good music. Music is as much a part of a meal as water is a part of swimming. The only time you can justify not having beautiful music playing softly in the background while you’re eating is when you are in the mountains or on the beach.

4. Don’t read. There is a time for reading, but it is never while you are eating.

5. At some point during the meal, take a moment to think about how lucky you are to be eating so well.

6. Eat slowly. Make each bite a pleasure, each meal memorable.

Even now, when I’m watching my weight, I make it a point to eat well. Here’s how I do it:

  • Breakfast

The secret to a great breakfast is to center it on a beverage. There are only three great breakfast drinks: coffee, tea, and freshly squeezed fruit juice. If you are fortunate enough to enjoy coffee, don’t worry about the caffeine. So long as you keep your consumption to a reasonable level (one oversized cup a day), it will be good for you. Coffee goes with all the great breakfast foods, from bagels to bacon.

Generally, my breakfast consists of a cup of coffee and some protein — usually an egg or two, depending on my appetite. Once a week, I treat myself to something more — an omelet or even steak and eggs. Once a week, too, I give myself some carbs — indulging in either a Canadian-bacon sandwich or a bagel with cream cheese. The combination of regularity and ritual (five meals that are pretty much the same and two “splurge” meals) keeps me happy.

  • Lunch

A salmon salad and a glass of cold water, wine, or beer is a perfect lunch. Avoid the temptation to eat fast, to eat at your desk, or to skip lunch. You don’t, however, need to spend a full hour at lunch. Twenty relaxing minutes is enough.

  • Dinner

Always drink wine at dinner — a single glass, carefully chosen to match the meal, slowly savored. Eat everything fresh — vegetables, fish, meat, even bread. Don’t overeat. Light dinners are best for most nights, but every so often treat yourself to a decadent five- or six-course meal.