On Cooking: How Your Time With Food Nourishes Everything.

I grew up on frozen fish sticks and spaghetti, a jar of Prego, canned asparagus, a can of fruit cocktail and a 2-liter bottle of Sprite.

Sometimes it was cling peaches in heavy syrup.

My mom worked, had two kids, a full social life and no great love for the kitchen.

Somehow, someway in high school, I began to cook.
I was glued to The Frugal Gourmet and Julia Child and Yan Can Cook.
Even when I had a mohawk.
I was making stuff. Having fun. For at least 10 people.
We were a family of 4.
So what that I didn’t know what I was doing.

I seriously love everything about food.
Books, shows, movies, grocery stores, greenmarkets, cook books,
chopping, slicing, mincing, mixing, blending, roasting, basting, eating.
And sharing.
I even dig making the grocery list.

My husband, not so much. Though I’d love to cook with him.
But, he enjoys cleaning, which I absolutely do not – so we’re good.
A lot of people are not into it. I get it.
We live in a city teeming with the best restaurants and everything can be delivered.

So, allow me to wax poetic about food and cooking.
I want to inspire. Tempt you.
And, perhaps, I can lure you into the kitchen.

It’s an obvious start but let’s indulge the 5 main senses.

The sheer diversity of form and color of fruits and vegetables and how that changes when you peel them
and how that changes more as they’re cooked and how they’re cooked I find delightful.
I mean come on, knobby ginger, runny soft-cooked yolks, the hairy ends of leeks.
Soft fresh plump figs and Vidalia onions that go translucent as they caramelize on the slow and low.

The bright scent of lemons and earthy garlic and pungent cheese. Coconut oil and fresh torn sage.
Indian curry and musky melon and burning charcoal are memories and possibility.

The distinct crunch of a macintosh, popping sizzling oil and rapidly boiling water.
Even the shrill sound of sharpening a knife which makes me cringe and happy at the same time.

Fuzzy kiwi skin, sticky drips from a jar of honey, the prickly sides of aloe and the healing slime inside.
The popping of ikura on your tongue, stealing a smear of frosting on your finger.
Squeezing for ripeness.

Salty. Sweet. Spicy. Sharp. Charred. Tangy. Sour. Tart. Rich. Savory. Umami.
It’s even pleasurable to say. Umami.
Ooh you know how some dishes are better the next day as the flavors meld and settle?
And how a sprinkle of sea salt casts magic on chocolate?

And beyond all this is how the act of making something makes me feel.
Creating something that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Finding joy in experiments that fail.

Honoring myself by taking the time to prepare something with care and attention and beauty, even when alone.
To make something that when I eat it will bring me closer to health.
To carefully select produce and read labels and stain my cookbooks and make stuff up
and make messes.

To go beyond satisfied. To be sated.
To invest invest in my wellbeing.
To tend to me.

Making my own choices. Buying my own ingredients.
Feeding myself based on what I know in my bones my body needs.

Sharing love with my friends and family. Caring for them, Nourishing them.
Thinking about them and what they might like. What their bodies might need.
Wanting to share something I love or am excited about or proud of.
Feeding their hearts as well as their bellies.
Gaining a greater appreciation for where real food comes from, how things go together.

Yes it takes a bit of time. Rare and precious time.
Hey I’m not pushing for gourmet. I certainly don’t in my own kitchen.
Crack a cookbook. Or follow your intuition.
Take risks but don’t feel daunted. It shouldn’t overwhelm you.
You may be surprised by how delicious simple can be.

Be careful though, you just may create ritual.
Food could become your Sunday sacred time.
The mindfulness of preparing for your week ahead, or just a warm, fragrant home cooked meal.
It nourishes everything.

let’s rock this thing.

PS – Here are some movies, shows and books I love about food:

Like Water for Chocolate


Chef’s Table

Big Night

Eat Drink Man Woman