"The old man pulled up chairs for the visitors and invited them to sit and rest, Baucis threw a coarse cloth over the seats and then adding bark and leaves to yesterday's fire, fanned and blew on it until it caught fire. She then took brush and twigs that were hanging from the roof and added them under her small bronze pot on the hearth. Philemon gathered some fresh vegetables from the well-irrigated garden and Baucis prepared them, stripping off the outer leaves. Meanwhile, Philemon lifted down a smoked pork back from the blackened rafters and cut off a small piece of the precious meat, adding it to the bubbling soup, and boiling it until it was tender. As they did this, the old couple talked welcomingly with their guests, to keep them from noticing the wait. They took a beechwood bowl, hanging from a nail by its curved handle, and filled it with warm water for the guests to refresh themselves. For the meal they set a cushion, stuffed with soft sedge grass on a couch made of willow wood, covering it with their finest linens, which even so, were old and cheap, matching the quality of the couch. The guests took their place for the meal. Baucis set the table and pushed a shard of old pot under one of the legs to keep it from shaking, then wiped the table off with stalks of fresh mint. The first course was semi-ripened brambleberries, wild cherries preserved in wine, endive, radishes some cheese, and fire-roasted eggs. These were served on clay dishes and wooden cups lined with beeswax. The soup, hot from the fire was next, and a young wine was passed around. Finally, there was dessert, nuts, figs and wrinkled dates and prunes, plus fragrant apples in wide baskets, and freshly harvested black grapes. In the middle of this was set a shining honeycomb, but above all, there was a cheerful atmosphere and a skilled and rich goodwill." Metamorphoses, Book VIII, lines 638-678
This scene is one of my favorite stories of all Latin poetry, a moment of elegy in a long epic poem, a grounding in reality. It is easy to imagine with all the travel and food shows and articles out today, a glowing description of this scene as a food writer journeys through the Italian countryside. I am still working on the big picture lesson from this, but meanwhile, even in the midst of economic crisis, it is good to have an example of living well with less. Yes, we can.
(For the 1 classicist out there who may read this, I am aware of the commentary and context of this story and the typical tone of the Latin poet idealizing the Golden Age. I have much more to say on that, but will not say it here. The translation takes some liberties.)