I’ve written about several travel-centric movies this month, even gone to Spain and back. And now it’s time to ask the question- what does it all mean? What’s the point of sitting in a cramped airline seat, fighting off jet lag, trying desperately to translate languages you only partly understand, and spending far too much money on shoes? Why do we do this to ourselves? To help me answer these questions, I’m watching the cinematic adaptation of a book that caused a generation of women to start saving up their frequent flier miles, Eat Pray Love (Disc/Download).
When I first saw this film almost ten years ago, I was underwhelmed. It felt too long, too full of bumper sticker philosophy, too privileged. But now that I’ve grown up a bit, had some successes and setbacks of my own, I see it through a new lens. What was once a story about an unsympathetic, deeply flawed woman traveling to Italy, India, and Bali to “find herself” (which in this case means eating carbs, wearing colorful scarves, and sweating beautifully) is now a permission slip. It’s permission to chase happiness, to make mistakes, and to take care of yourself. It’s permission to have that second glass of wine, to have the courage to extricate yourself from a relationship that’s gone south, and to do something wildly irresponsible (in my case, taking a trip to Menorca while I’m still paying off my new kitchen). If Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and this film have taught us anything, it’s that we only have this one life. What we do with it is entirely up to us—a fact that’s equal parts scary, exciting, and empowering. I may not have all the answers yet, but I believe balance might eventually be within grasp.
There’s a lot of beautiful scenery in this film, but I most connect with the scenes shot in Rome and Naples. The pizza! The pasta! The delightful small cars! To celebrate this search for pleasure, I’ll be making a cocktail I found on my own travels, which uses my favorite summertime Italian aperitif. While watching Eat Pray Love, I recommend drinking an Aperol Sour.
2 oz Aperol
½ oz Gin
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Orange peel for garnish
Add Aperol, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white to a cocktail shaker. Do a dry shake to combine, then add ice. Shake vigorously until chilled and frothy (about a minute). Strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with an orange peel.
On my recent vacation, I spent a lot of time on the beach reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s other bestselling book, Big Magic. In the way that Eat Pray Love encourages us to find balance in our lives, Big Magic encourages us to find the creative energy within and let it out into the world. This may all be a lot of self-help mumbo jumbo, but I can’t deny that both of these books, and this film, have brought new energy into my writing. And I give special thanks to Eat Pray Love for introducing me to my favorite mantra: Smile with your liver. Cheers!