Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ritual of Food

I love to cook.  I'm not necessarily a gourmet chef, but I love trying something new or feeling nourished by my own efforts.  My kitchen is tiny and was built in 1925.  There's no dishwasher nor fancy gadgets.  It's just me, a sharp knife and some good ingredients.  This week I made Eggplant Parmesan.  I dipped the sliced eggplant in egg and flour and then fried it gently in olive oil.  I added tomato sauce and cheese and baked it at 425 degress for about 10 minutes.  I received some organic Beecher's cheese as a gift last week, so I let that melt in globs on top of the tomato sauce.  The result was a hearty vegetable dish that disguised itself as meat.  It was so pretty, I had to pair it with some red wine and dark chocolate for dessert.  I drank and munched happily thinking about all of the vital antioxidants I was consuming.  Living alone does provide me a chance to really enjoy the solitary and satisfying experience of cooking and eating.  If things don't turn out perfectly, that's only my secret to know.  It my own trial-and-error safe haven.

Some people say they don't like to cook for one, so they microwave a burrito or defrost a pizza.  How depressing!  I actually prefer cooking for one.  That way I can load up with vegetables without having to consider what another person likes.  Of course I also enjoy having people over for dinner, but I notice that my cooking stress goes up with additional guests.

Noah Levine wrote about "mindful eating" in his book, Dharma Punx.  Limiting distractions (no TV, no reading) allows us to breathe, smell and actually taste our food.  The time spent eating affects digestion, and I believe, absorbtion of nutrients.  There's nothing better than settling in for a meal and really meaning it.  It's not crammed in between appointments or in the car while driving.  It's eating on purpose.  As Portage Bay Cafe declares... Eat like you give a damn! 

My days of deprivation are over.  That limited view of the body and of food is too restricting.  Negativity and shame keep extra weight on.  I believe that the way we look at food sometimes matters more than the food itself.  These last few years food has turned more into a source of joy, ritual and quality.  I vow to make my daily eating ritual nourish my body, my creativity and my soul.

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