“Food and cooking, therefore, are not low subjects. In fact there are no low subjects anywhere in the physical universe. Every real thing is a joy, if only you have eyes and ears to relish it, a nose and a tongue to taste it.”
“But more than that, food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world. Every day of our lives, they preoccupy, delight, and refresh us. Food is not just some fuel we need to get us going toward higher things. Cooking is not a drudgery we put up with in order to get the fuel delivered. Rather, each is a heart’s astonishment. Both stop us dead in our tracks with wonder. Even more, they sit us down evening after evening, and in the company that forms around our dinner tables, they actually create our humanity.” Robert Farrar Capon
I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately. I haven’t really been in the mood for cooking any more than usual, and I haven’t been craving anything in particular; I’ve just been thinking a lot about food – mostly about the quality of the food we eat, the respect we have for it, and the role it plays in our lives.
I love the above paragraphs about food and cooking, and I agree wholeheartedly. I actually have a small notebook where I collect quotes about food and gardening and cooking. Here is another selection I like:
“The key word to put back into our complex relationship with food is respect – for the lives of animals, for how foods are grown and harvested, for the conditions of those who do the harvesting and the preparing, and finally, for ourselves and our families and what we put into our bodies.
If there is something sacred about life, then it extends to all life. The point is not to reject the consumption of animal foods, for instance, but to restore mystical sacredness and profound respect to the raising and killing and consuming of animal life, to restore reverence for the earth and what it can provide us when it is carefully and respectfully nurtured and tended; and finally, to restore the self respect that puts value back into human activities even when they produce no obvious economic return.
When we reclaim this respect, not only will food be safer, but it will taste better, and so in the process we will restore joy to the sacredness not just of life, but of living.” Nicols Fox
I have started photographing the vegetables in my garden and some of the dishes I use them in, and this has helped me to see how beautiful “real” food is and how important beauty is when we sit down to eat. I know that sometimes we are just so hungry that it doesn’t matter what the food looks like, but there is something about presenting food beautifully that elevates that food and shows our respect for it and for the people with whom we eat.
Maha Chohan says: “It is one of the most important and least understood activities of life, that the radiation and feeling that go into the preparation of food affect everyone who partakes of it, and this activity should be unhurried, peaceful, and happy.”
I agree with this too, but I realize that being unhurried while preparing food is not always possible, especially when you have small children and a busy schedule. Maybe, as with so many things, when we make food and cooking a higher priority and do a little planning, we will be more unhurried and peaceful.
I’ve decided to try to do more planning when it comes to food. If I have a plan, and have the food on hand, I am much more likely to want to cook and to be unhurried. This morning, when I came home from work at 9:00 am., I gathered some herbs from the garden and dug a few carrots and did all the prep work for a delicious lentil/brown rice soup. Last night before I went to work, I made vegetable broth to use as a base for the soup.
This type of food is not likely to be something that appeals to us if we have been eating a diet with a lot of sugar, salt, or processed foods. I’ve found that when I have been eating well, and I allow myself to actually get hungry before I eat, that foods like this taste absolutely delicious.
I love salty foods and sweet foods as much as anyone else – the dessert section is the first section I go to when I look at a cookbook – but I’ve come to believe that foods like that should be saved for special occasions like birthdays or weddings or some Tuesday evening just because we haven’t had any treats for a while. (The exception might be a small piece of quality chocolate which maybe should be enjoyed daily!)
With the obesity statistics and a health crisis in this country, we need to take control of what we are eating. It takes evaluation, planning, and a new mind-set, but so does anything else worth doing. When we respect ourselves enough to care about the quality of our food and prepare it with love and serve it beautifully, we will learn that “food and cooking are among the richest subjects in the world”, and our lives and those of our families and others we enjoy food with will be made richer.