Traditional peoples have traditional words to describe a way of life we’ve forgotten. I’m fluent in Spanish and learned two words my year in Spain in 1966 that aren’t in US English. Cundir and Aprovechar.
Cundir means to make something last, go far. In English it might be something like the old Maxwell House Coffee ad ‘good to the very last drop.’ I remember visiting a couple devoted to peace and to the legacy of Peace Pilgrim. Every aspect of their lives was considered, respectful to resources. They made everything last. The had a celery bunch from the store and I watched her carefully slice it down to the root for our salad and then toss the root in the soup pot. She was making that celery last. It is also bit like the old “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Or buying a soup bone rather than the meat and feeding a family on it. Or like “stone soup”.
The Stone Soup story goes like this. A hobo in the 30s was in a railroad yard around a fire with other guys who rode the rails, staying warm.
“Sure wish I had something to eat.” one said.
“Me too. I’m down to nothing.”
“Well, I’ve got this great little stone” our hobo said pulling a stone the size of a potato out of his pocket. “Yessiree, this stone has been the basis of a lot of great soups. Filling. Something about it just makes that flavor come out. Stick to the ribs. And it’s a bit magic. I can use it for a pot and when every scrap is gone I just pop it in my pocket for the next pot. i’ll put it in this pot of boiling water fellas and just see how good it’s gonna be.
The man who had been hard up dug in his pocket. “I’ve got this carrot I took for some ladies’ garden”He popped that hefty carrot in.
“Here’s a turnip”
“Here’s a potato. Okay, here’s both.
One by one the guys pulled the bit of food they’d been hoarding and put it in the pot and pretty soon they had a hearty … stone soup.”
With little control over volume and variety of food filling my fridge. I am making everything cundir. Every leaf of basil. Every slice of onion. Every blemished potato or apple that Tricia tosses in because she can’t sell it to her regular customers.
Aprovechar is similar but has to do with the pleasure derived from every little bit and scrap of life. You can “aprovechar” a meal, a sunny day, a conversation with a friend. To aprovechar you have to be present. You have to be grateful, at least a bit, for what you have rather than hankering after what you don’t have. So often, living alone, I prepare a nice meal for myself (i like cooking) but the eating is less conscious. When I eat with others, I am slow and savor both the food and the conversation. Alone I tend to open a magazine to stimulate my mind, actually detracting from the stimulation of my taste buds. Voluntarily surrendering control over the volume and variety of my food flow, I am retraining myself, poco a poco (little by little) to aprovechar once more my food. And make it cundir.