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Friday, January 13, 2017

Slaving Over a Hot Stove or...

Joyful Cooking

'Cooking without remuneration' and 'slaving over a hot stove' are activities separated mostly by frame of mind. The distinction is crucial.”
Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life)

Are you a cook? Is it a joy for you to have a whole day to plan, shop for, and prepare a fabulous meal for friends and/or family? Is it drudgery? One of my sons was briefly married to a woman who said explicitly, “I do NOT cook.” as though preparing food was not only beneath her, but offensive. What's up with that! I know a human being can get by without cooking but, honestly, that's a sacrifice of about half of what is most precious in life. People of wealth can afford to go to fabulous restaurants and eat chef creations that are artful and delicious, but they miss the creative, hands-on element of cooking—the wonderful aromas of yeasty bread rising, and meat roasting with fresh herbs. These are the substance of life itself.

I think growing up with parents who cooked is probably the crucial element. My own mother made hot breakfast and dinner—every day. Occasionally, my dad made a pot of soup—but he happily grew the vegetables for that soup, and took great pride in the height of his tomato plants and the fruit they produced. One of my earliest memories is of me at about age three, running through rows of corn, seeing the shadow-patterns the leaves made, and watching the tassels high above me blowing in the breeze. Eating out was not an option for us, but Mother was a good cook.

Americans are overweight and have high rates of diabetes because we no longer have a one-on-one relationship with our food. We drive through instead of slicing, order out instead of dicing, pick up instead of tossing, eat pizza and chocolate pie instead of pork chop and cabbage. Working people in other countries still cook. The tradition in Europe is to stop by a market on the way home and find what is freshest for dinner. Simple preparation makes for the best meals. There's almost nothing better than quickly sauteed meat or fish, a green salad, and pasta tossed in browned butter. A complete meal in thirty minutes, and food for the soul as well as the body.

Reinventing mealtime is one giant step on the road to health and wholeness. Gulping supplements won't get you there. Falling in love again with the creative process of cooking a simple and delicious meal will.

                                                            In the Spirit,

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