Exploring Cultures of Rest: Aperitivo

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

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As far as people go, I’m fairly low-maintenance. Scratch that; I would more readily refer to myself as middle-maintenance. But high-maintenance? I’m often too independent to a fault for that. That said, the one thing I get fairly high-maintenance about is being brought drinks. This refers to all sorts of drinks: coffee, tea, wine, beer, seltzer, you name it. I took a 5 Love Languages (Dr. Chapman) quiz about a year ago and one of the five – one I deeply appreciate – is “Acts of Service.”

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

When I am brought a beverage, either in the morning or before dinner time (especially by a lover), I feel overwhelmed with a sense of deep ease. The ritual of coffee tells me that the day is beginning and there’s goodness to come, and the ritual of sitting down with a glass of wine or seltzer with some grapefruit juice squeezed in tells me that the day is over and there’s not much more I have to do except relax. That feeling – especially after a busy day – is a truly amazing one. The fact that it’s before dinner and the only expectation is to sit around and watch the sunset is and feels beautiful. That is aperitivo, the culture of rest we’re exploring today.

This article from HuffPo explains it phenomenally.

Aperitivo originates from the Latin verb aperire which means ‘to open’; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite.

I have loved resting into the aperitivo ritual while in Tuscany. At 7:45pm every evening, we all pour ourselves a drink – alcoholic or non-alcoholic (it REALLY doesn’t matter!), sit around the sunset and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a daily ritual for slowing down nested into another ritual (dinner), which I so appreciate.

So pour yourself a drink, or demand that your partner does as an act of service. Lean back in a chair. And rest.

London in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

Cheers from Edinburgh, where I actually have more time and less external stimulation to reflect on London, even when I experience a new place in the U.K. I thought that it would be nice, for the purposes of this blog, to take a categorical inventory of all the places I went to in London, with just a few words about each. That way, if any of you, readers, are planning a trip to the U.K. soon, this can be a quick + curated reference!

Without further adieu, here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank.

SIGHTS
Regents Park – I was impressed by the number of outdoor areas there are to experience in such a metropolitan city. Regents Park was an excellent first one and led us straight to downtown.
The Lloyds – N aptly described it as “what 1980s architects thought the future would look like.” The Lloyds are a series of banking buildings with cranes permanently lodged atop them. This architectural landmark literally looks like the guts and intestines of a building, with elevators and pipes on the exterior for all to see. 
St Paul’s Cathedral – Not too old, but exquisite to look at.


The Tower – Here began my tour of my beloved Philippa Gregory books. While the area around it was quite touristy, the sight itself was the pinnacle of well-preserved history.


The Thames – To exit the Tower, I proceeded to take a long, solo, contemplative walk along the River Thames. It was absolutely beautiful with grand bridges with even more historical significance.


Westminster Abbey – While I didn’t go inside Westminster, I did get a good vibe for its grandiosity and continued function to this day. The coolest part of seeing historical monuments in London is that they are living history; many of them are still in use! Seeing as it was a Sunday, I got to see the guard of Westminster lock the gate.

ART
British Museum – This is an ironic name for a museum because it is really a global museum of art from all around the world. I could go back ten more times and still not see everything.
National Portrait Gallery – I loved the small room Bronte exhibit that is going on until April, I believe. Located at a side entrance to the National Gallery, it is a very accessible and manageable museum to see a variety of focused art.
National Gallery – This museum was definitely on par with, if not larger, than the Met, if the Met had even older goods + art.
Victoria + Albert Museum – This was definitely our favorite because it was a museum of real, usable artifacts that spanned time periods. It all felt perfectly curated.

LIBATIONS
Fortnum + Mason – This unbelievable shop of tea, everything that could possibly be associated with tea, and beautiful stationery was actually the highlight of my whole London trip. Breathtaking + energizing = bliss. 
Foyles – While this was a five-story-tall bookshop, I spent most of my time there at the cafe, which was definitely the best bookstore cafe I’d ever been to! I had a delicious crushed ginger tea! Also, the cafe is right next to the bookstore’s art gallery. Very cool for book lovers, tea lovers, and art lovers alike!


Fifty-Five Bar – I got my first of two smoking cocktails there, called “The Zombie” (i.e. a flaming corpse reviver); this place is located in Camden Town.

FOOD
NOPI – One of Ottolenghi’s finest restaurants with unbelievable food. A highlight was getting to see the kitchen right from where we sat!


Hawksmoor – We ordered an insane full-on English breakfast for two there. When I say insane, I mean it was the fullest platter of breakfast meats (many of which I did not know actually existed) I’d ever seen! Like I said when I went to Cuba, I had to say it again…goodbye, vegetarianism.